M. ZACHARY SHERMAN is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He has written comics for Marvel, Radical, Image, and Dark Horse. His recent work includes America's Army: The Graphic Novel, Earp: Saint for Sinners, and the second book in the SOCOM: SEAL Team Seven trilogy.
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.
* Ms. Yingling Reads blog *
The series Bloodlines includes Blood Brotherhood and Fighting Phantoms in addition to these two. Each volume follows a member of the Donovan family during their military career in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War or Afghanistan War. In A Time for War, the first volume in the series, Private First Class Mike Donovan is part of a group of paratroopers dropped behind enemy lines on a mission to disrupt Hitler's army and German supply lines one month before D-Day. There are problems with his landing and he becomes separated from his unit. While hiding in an abandoned German farmhouse, PFC Donovan is spotted and shot at by German soldiers. Luckily, members of his unit and his sergeant rescue him just in time. Donovan rejoins his unit and they continue the mission. As the fighting intensifies, Donovan becomes apprehensive about his role in the war, his sergeant reassures him and PFC Donovan finds the courage to fulfill his role on the team. Control Under Fire sees the grandson of PFC Donovan, Lieutenant Lester Donovan, in action in Afghanistan. Lt. Donovan and his team of Navy Seals are given the task of capturing a Taliban leader. The mission seems to o according to plan until their escape helicopter is shot down. Separated from his platoon, Donovan decides to search enemy territory for his fellow soldiers. Following a hair raising battle, Lt. Donovan is able to rescue almost all of his men and successfully complete his mission. Authored by M. Zachary Sherman, a Navy Seal and the great-grandson of Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman, these books are fast paced and full of action. The short chapters are illustrated with full color cartoon-type panels. Interspersed throughout the book are non-fiction "debriefings" which offer illuminating information on various aspects of the war and war machinery. While this reviewer only saw two of the four books in the series, this series will work well with upper elementary through middle school boys as well as older reluctant readers. * VOYA *
The fictional Bloodlines series focuses on the recollections of men from an American family who fought twentieth- and twenty-first-century wars. This title focuses on the experiences of Michael Donovan, who was a paratrooper during the Normandy invasion. The story is cut from a familiar war-story template, with the young private first hiding from the enemy but then finding his courage after the death of the avuncular sergeant. Despite the cliches, however, many young readers will enjoy this. The format draws elements from comics, with large fonts denoting explosions, plenty of blazing guns, and men with impossibly square jaws. Added to the package are frequently inserted period photographs and facts about WWII. There are a few fact-checking glitches: one page lists the Allied powers but leaves out the Soviet Union. Still, the additions of bite-size nonfiction give this book extra historical heft. A good choice for reluctant readers. * Booklist *