95 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-88984-083-0





Julie Rekai Rickerd is a Toronto broadcaster and public relations


Gregory Sass — soldier, editor, teacher, and writer — had a good idea that did not work.

Redcoat is the story of young Shadrach Byfield, who bribes his way out of the Newcastle work-houses for the poor in the early nineteenth century, is shipped to Canada with the 41st Regiment, fights the Americans under General Brock, and after many adventures and much suffering, eventually returns to his English origins at Branxton Lane.

Geared to readers in the eight-to twelve-year-old range, Redcoat is self-conscious in style. It is written as a first-person narrative, and one of its main problems is its total lack of humor and excitement. It fails to stir the imagination or arouse any interest in or sympathy for the hero. Shadrach Byfield’s tale becomes melodramatic but remains dull.

Sass’s prose is often stilted and cumbersome. Today’s children have little patience with phrases like “Doors were unlocked by keys belonging to bunches....”

Sass’s previous publications have been textbooks on Canadian history and politics. Redcoat fails to bridge the gap between textbook and novel. There is a great difference in the requirements of a text that a child is obliged to read and a novel that he or she chooses to read. Historical novels must entertain as readily as pure fiction. Redcoat is an adventure novel that seems to have all the ingredients children would like, but its presentation completely misses the mark.


Sass, Gregory, “Redcoat,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 19, 2024,