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Dogs of War Paperback – October 29, 2013
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In three stories of military-trained dogs in war zones, this excellent example of a historical-fiction graphic novel provides both adventure and insight. “Boots” features an episode from the trenches in Ypres during WWI that may be familiar to some youth: the Christmas truce, during which German and British soldiers put away deadly fighting for holiday celebrations together. In “Loki,” the scene from WWII is more unusual but no less compelling: a sled dog works—and plays—among the military installation protecting Greenland from German forces. “Sheba” is set both during Vietnam and in her GI handler’s life years later back in the U.S. They are weighty narratives, but Fox’s beautiful, detailed, and deeply colored imagery excels in depicting riveting soldier and dog lives in these varied conflicts and landscapes. Keenan, meanwhile, stays true to good storytelling, providing realistic facts about life in wartime without adding burdensome pedantic asides. Among the many stories about military working dogs being published in recent years, this is a real standout. Grades 7-10. --Francisca Goldsmith --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
Keenan has created an exhilarating and suspenseful set of stories about three soldiers and their dogs while also giving a general overview of different wars and touching on some period political and cultural events. Donnie and his dog, Boots, are medics lost deep in the trenches of World War I, trying to find their platoon. Rescuers stationed in Greenland, Cooper and his dog, Loki, are sent to save a downed World War II pilot. The book ends with the compelling story of Lanford, a vet back from Vietnam suffering from flashbacks of his scout dog, Sheba. These relationships feel genuine and are well developed, showing the training process and the reliance each one had with the other in order to stay alive. By the end, readers will feel that these dogs were not just helpers, but true soldiers worthy of honor. Fox’s illustrations do a wonderful job of showing the devastating nature of these conflicts without sensationalized violence. The backgrounds are exceptional, showing the extremes of each story’s harsh and dangerous environment. A prologue gives more information about each war and a history of solider dogs up to present day. This stunning graphic novel will be a hit with reluctant readers and history lovers.
The title may prioritize dogs, but these three historical fiction stories in this graphic novel actually focus more strongly on the men who served with those dogs in three different wars. In “Boots,” sixteen-year-old Marcellinus McDonald is a doctor’s assistant on the Western Front in 1914, and Boots is his beloved “mercy dog,” who finds the wounded in No Man’s Land. “Loki” is a sled dog in a rescue unit stationed in 1942 Greenland, where his master relies on him in a solo encounter with some reconnoitering Nazis. The final story, “Sheba,” follows young Henry in 1968 North Carolina as his struggles with his obstreperous beagle pup bring him friendship with a recently returned Vietnam vet haunted by his experience on patrol with his German shepherd, Sheba. Keenan creates vivid voices for her characters, effectively tucking in exposition to convey information about everything from military objectives to daily life details in three very different situations. There’s action aplenty, but the rhythms and trajectories vary effectively: “Boots” is a classic story of the Christmas Truce; “Loki” is an adventure tale of intelligence and hand-to-hand combat; “Sheba,” which could stand alone as a book in its own right, is a poignant tale of male bonding between a young fatherless African-American boy and a black soldier overwhelmed by his experiences. Though the chaos of the action scenes can make them difficult to read, the art is atmospheric and effective, blending cinematic heroism, especially in the portraits of the dogs, with often daunting realism. Diehard warmongers, dog fans, and graphic-novel readers will all find something new here, and this will be an easy booktalk to readers reluctant and otherwise.
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Top Customer Reviews
Scholastic Graphix, 2013
Historical Fiction/Graphic Novel
Recommended for grades 4-8
Vivid artwork depicts three short stories about a dog in war. WWI, WWII and Vietnam are explored. Each war has a different breed dog preforming different tasks. But all the stories have one thing in common: dogs and their handlers have a special bond, which is heightened in war zones.
Kids will enjoy this action filled book.
In Boots, we learn about Boots a medic dog in the trenches of France with a young handler. This episode includes the Christmas Eve truce, but then shows how war continues on. In Loki, a dog in Greenland helps to pull sleds and save a soldier from the enemy. In Sheba, a young boy learns about his neighbor who is recently back from the Vietnam War. Sheba was the name of the dog that he was partnered with during the war and had to leave behind "with the rest of the equipment." They are all well told stories and show aspects of how soldier dogs are used and cared for.
The book concludes with a great Author's Note telling more about service dogs. There is a further reading section with more books and movies on the subject. Art by Nathan Fox is good. While the subject matter is for younger readers, the seriousness of war is never diminished, including the consequences of being a veteran in a less than popular war. It's all very well written by Sheila Keenan and I enjoyed these stories of brave men and dogs.
I was given a review copy of this graphic novel by Scholastic Books and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for letting me review this graphic novel.
I didn't think I would like this book..but I fell in love with each story. This book is seperated into 3 time frames..World War I with Boots, World War II with Loki and Vietnam with Sheba, and to be fair, Bouncer. Each story affected me in a different way. The authors notes at the end of the book, sadly, also affected me. Any dog or animal lover would enjoy this book and the factual information it contains. 3.5 stars
I met the illustrator, Nathan Fox, at an art show. He was a real nice guy and his art was very well done. I was so impressed with his work and his great attitude (we were outside and it was blistering hot), that I really wanted to support him, so I grabbed a copy of Dogs of War and he was kind enough to sign and put on illustration on the inside cover for me.
The story that his colleague Sheila Keenan tells is very well done, and gradually gets better and better. The last of the three stories she tells is probably the best, as it covers PTS and how the dogs are viewed as equipment, essentially stripping the soldiers of the relationship they build with the animal.
Keenan's story telling and Fox's art work well with each other. Overall, its a nice read. I'd strongly encourage this work to anyone who may teach U.S. history.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It has FACTUAL information with websites, DVDs and other sources. I got it read in an hour and about 30min or so.Read more
I would highly recommend this for any reader over six. This is a beautifully written story.Read more