The Firefighter


162 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 0-590-74051-2
DDC jC813'.54





Reviewed by Tony Barclay

Tony Barclay is a retired juvenile corrections probation officer and a
former public-health research associate at the University of Toronto.


While this contrived novel could almost have been written in the
Victorian age, it will no doubt be popular with many children. It
contains virtually every cliché of traditional children’s books. The
hero is an orphan who goes to live with his maiden aunts—one strict
and forbidding and the other soft and loving—after his parents and
little brother die in a car accident. The description of the little
brother lying in his coffin is worthy of the best nineteenth-century
popular writers.

The story is one of a boy fascinated by firefighters, perhaps because a
local fireman is his only real friend. Later, after getting himself into
trouble and being suspected of setting fires, he finds another true
friend in, (you may have guessed it) a dog!

Naturally everything comes out well in the end. The fireman, himself a
bereaved husband, turns out to be a Big Brother and takes on the hero as
his little brother. Together they visit the boy’s parents’ grave.
Later, when the boy and his dog capture the firebug, the boy is
acclaimed as a hero.

The book has some merit. While it lacks imagination and depends heavily
on coincidence to advance the plot, it also espouses healthy values.
Furthermore, it does in some ways capture the spirit of its 1950s
Toronto setting. It is therefore a Canadian story about love and caring,
and there are worse things than that.


Hunter, Bernice Thurman., “The Firefighter,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 19, 2024,