Osprey Graphic Novels
I have a bit of a change of pace today, and will be reviewing "Island of Terror, the Battle of Iwo Jima" from Osprey Publishing.
I am a big fan of Osprey in general. For those not familiar with Osprey, they publish a series of books on military history focusing on specific battles or units from across the historical spectrum. I have several of their books on various British or Scots battles or armies, almost all from the time period of 1000-1600AD. So when I got a copy of a graphic novel from Osprey aimed at middle school readers dealing with Iwo Jima I knew I had to give it a look.
Like all the Osprey publications this was well researched, giving detail on not just the battle iteself but on individuals on both sides who fought there. It does a good job of putting Iwo Jima into the larger context of WWII in the pacific, explaining why this tiny island was important not only to the Americans who invaded but to the Japanese defenders.
All too often in my opinion books deling with battles such as this tend to downplay the human tragedy involved, instead filling up with dry facts and figures that end up more like laundry lists with attached maps than telling the stories of bravery and sacrafice that seem to resonate with the readers at the middle school level. The authors here succeed in humanizing both sides of the conflict, preferring to focus on the stories of a few soldiers on both sides of the lines.
I also learned things that I did not know from this book. I was unaware that a group of young Japanese students arrived on the island shortly before the battle, and not having a way to return to Japan were given weapons and lost during the fighting. I was also unaware of the individual stories of the American marines who, after the battle, were awarded the Medal of Honor for their actions.
The graphics well drawn but not gory, so perfect for the target readers. There are sugestions for further reading in the back should anyone decide to dig deeper into the stories. There are also a dozen other titles in the series, all dealing with battles from WWII or the American Civil War.
This will not make it into my perminant collection, but I think that middle school librarians would do well to look at books in this series for their students.