Friday, April 08, 2011
Guy Friday: War Books
The Bloodlines series from Capstone Publishing by Zachary M. Sherman is more about format than plot, although there is enough meat in these 80 page books that students who have forgotten for the last two months to get a book about war for language arts that they need for the test next week will find enough to discuss. The interesting thing is how they are formatted to reel in reluctant readers.
Pages are occasionally illustrated with graphic novel style illustrations, and chapters end with "debriefings" that discuss causes of the war, equipment used, or events of specific days. This will please my students who like nonfiction tremendously. The writing is fine and the reading levels for Accelerated Reader unusually high (over 5.0 is high!), probably because of the technical terms. My only complaint is the use of large font in the middle of text to add things like "kablamo!, "fwooosh", and "ratatat", which was distractingly Batman- like. Just because we can play with text doesn't mean we have to. All in all, this series (even at $17.49 each) was a good investment. All descriptions from publisher.
A Time For War
"When his plane is shot down on June 6, 1944, D-Day, paratrooper Private Michael Donovan must find a way to survive and locate his platoon."
On December 1, 1950, Marine Captain Everett Donovan wakes up in a mortar crater behind enemy lines and is confronted by his Korean counterpart.
Shot down over Viet Nam in 1968, Marine Lieutenant "Candy Man" Donovan must leave his seriously injured best friend behind in enemy territory while he tries to reach their rendezvous point.
Control Under Fire
Lieutenant Commander Donovan has a chance to prove to himself and his elite SEAL team that he has what it takes to lead when their helicopter is shot down and some of his men captured by terrorists in the mountains of Kandahar, Afghanistan.
Phillips, Dee. Blast.
In comparison, this 42 page book is leveled at 2.0 and has about enough story for a paragraph. The pages are distractingly graphic, which I have found that many reluctant readers don't necessarily like. This would be better suited for younger students, although I think that Saddleback's goal is to appeal to older students who have significant reading problems. My students seem to prefer something like Eleanor Robins' Carter High books, which have larger print and easier vocabulary, but look more age appropriate. From the Publisher: "A young soldier describes how he saved another man while they were under attack. Includes activities designed to help reluctant readers further explore the story."
Lee, Jennifer 8. The Fortune Cookie Chronicles.
Nicole over at Booked Up didn't care much for this, but I had to read it. Perhaps the fact that I went into it with low expecations, as well as the fact that reading it qualified as "goofing off" in my world let me enjoy this overview of why Chinese food is really American. Lee certainly did a lot of travel and research, and covers several important cultural aspects of what we consider Chinese food. My only complaints were that it needed a better editor, and the anecdotal progression could have been arranged in a different fashion to be more logical. This stacks up fairly well with other food books I've read. Not for middle school libraries, but fun for browsing for adults who need a break from middle grade books!