I am assuming the below titles are from a series called Graphic Novel, with each having its own sub-series within that umbrella title. But I could be wrong, as stranger things have happened (I got my dad to eat fish and chips with me more than once). And in this series they take subjects and introduce them to readers ages 8 to 14. The younger side of this age timeline might need a little assistance, while the older might need to be a smidgen below traditional reading level, but they are set up to allow for readers or learners of multiple levels.
Starting with the Cher Ami Comes Through: Heroic Carrier Pigeon of World War I (Heroic Animals), as it was the first one I picked up,
we see how Nel Yomtov (the author of both titles I will review) created history and current events in a manner that is easy and informative. However, each will have their own unique illustrations/illustrator, with Mark Simmons giving life to a unique story of World War I and the animal that probably won it for the Allies. Pigeons. As we follow the soldiers during the events that would determine how much control Germany would keep, we learn facts about the battles, the areas, and the people, and we also see how communication was the greatest weapon after supplies (which the American/allies were trying to stop from getting to German troops). Or the lack of communication, as it could be cut off with the smallest thing (not in range radios, interference, the radios destroyed). But there was one way that usually could work, pigeons. Yet that was not without danger as it would be very easy for them to become lost, shot down, or it deciding to do its own thing. And we see how one pigeon succeeded where others had failed. While presented in an almost fiction-story format, it can be a tad dry sometimes, making this more for the history buff than the casual reader. The illustrations were nice and got things done by setting a heavier tone (it is war after all) but not dark or gratuitous. I thought it was giving off a vibe of what the style could have been at the setting of the story. However, the one complaint I had was that they can be crowded and that makes it a little harder to pick out individual things. But overall, it was a fresh story that took war and gave it a bit of hope.
As said, Yomtov also wrote the second book in this review, School Strike for Climate (Movements and Resistance). And as said, we have a new artist with Fern Cano doing its illustrations. Focusing on the strike lead by Greta Thunberg, we see how the “bigger picture” comes into play. Not only did Thunberg stand alone at times, she would also work with crowds. There is even a little personal history that gives us the backstory that would create someone as passionate as she is. While the graphic novel is written in a conversational tone, things are factual and can be a bit loaded and not a smooth read. As it is a pro-climate helping story, the “heros and villians” are obvious, making the story have a predictable slant. Which, of course, is neither bad nor good, just the way the author wishes to present their work. I did have one issue with the illustrations, which was that while you know who the people presented are (it was obvious the person was Hilary Clinton, Barack Obama, Donald Trump), they were a tad awkward and it could take you out of the flow of the text as they were not “really” them (sometimes almost a caricature). And while nothing new is added to our overall knowledge of climate change, it allows us to have a compacted presentation that introduces the larger subject. Which is probably why I liked Cher Ami Come Through better as we focused on one major event and not the “everything package” and on an event that is not necessarily known on the not intellectual level.