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Young Adult Fiction Prejudice & Racism

Trial By Fire

by (author) Sheila Dalton

Dundurn Press
Initial publish date
Nov 1998
Prejudice & Racism, Aboriginal & Indigenous, Law & Crime
Recommended Age
12 to 15
Recommended Grade
Recommended Reading age
12 to 15
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Nov 1998
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Nov 1998
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


Winner of the Canadian Children’s Book Centre Choice: Best Books for Kids & Teens
Seventeen year-old Nathan is running – running from his past and running from his present. Raised by a white mother and never having known his native father, he must cope with prejudice and stereotypes. When he meets Sally, the beautiful outsider, he finds someone who believes in him. But when Sally’s house is put to the torch by an arsonist, suspicion falls on Nathan and he finds himself embroiled in an intrigue and murder that threaten to drive the two teenagers apart.

About the author

Sheila was born in Middlesex, U.K., and emigrated to Canada with her family at the age of six. She returned to England to attend the University of London, and afterwards travelled through Central America. After working as a barmaid in England, as an art gallery assistant, and as a self-employed craftsperson specializing in jewelery, she became a librarian. For two years, she was in charge of the Native Peoples Collection at the North York Central Library, where she still works. Sheila also works as a freelance editor and writer. She currently resides in Newmarket, Ontario, with her husband and son. Among Sheila’s wide-ranging interests are visual art (she has participated in shows in Queen Street galleries), and Vipassana (Insight) Meditation, which she has practiced for 15 years. Sheila’s work has been published extensively; her non-fiction work includes three children’s books on wild animals (Leopards, Gazelles, and Orangutans) and two on cultures of the world (Children of Japan and Children of France) for Grolier. From 1989-91, she wrote for and edited Discovery, a science magazine used in elementary schools, for Houghton Mifflin. Her first picture book, Bubblemania, was published in 1992,. Her other picture books include Doggerel and Catalogue (Doubleday, 1996, 1998), and Pig Tale, published by Doubleday in 1999. Additionally, Sheila has written an adult novel, Tales of the Ex-Fire Eater (Aurora Editions, 1994), and a volume of poetry, Blowing Holes Through the Everyday (HMS Press, 1994). Her poetry and fiction have been published in literary magazines such as Descant, Rune, and Canadian Forum. Sheila has even ventured into the drama field, winning third prize for her play Legacy in the University of Toronto Playwriting Competition, in 1983. This play was later produced, and reached the semi-finals of the Simpson’s Drama Festival. Trial By Fire was Sheila’s first novel for young adults, and her first publication with Napoleon.

Sheila Dalton's profile page


  • Winner, Canadian Children's Book Centre Choice: Best Books for Kids & Teens

Librarian Reviews

Trial by Fire

In this YA novel, seventeen-year-old Nathan is in a foster home after once again getting into trouble. His alcoholic mother does not want him back, even though he provided much of the care for his younger siblings. When he meets Sally, he thinks he is in love. When someone sets her house on fire, suspicion falls on Nathan. Nathan decides to solve the mystery to prove his innocence. While doing so, he comes to terms with trying to walk in both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal cultures. Dalton gives a believable portrayal of small town life and prejudices.

Sheila Dalton is a reference librarian in Newmarket, Ontario. She has written other books for children and one adult novel.

Caution: Some stereotyping of both white and Aboriginal characters.

Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. Canadian Aboriginal Books for Schools. 2007-2008.