Swords, lances, bows and arrows, clubs, rifles—weapons of war fill this "Warriors of History" series designed to capture the attention of boys who may be reluctant to read but are well attuned to the constant violence and bloodshed of films, games, and the daily news. Each title introduces a military organization or cult in four chapters, often including a gruesome incident to add a thrill. Some of the titles are better than others; some contain mistakes—all offer unattributed illustrations (a major fault of this series) ranging from modern photographs to period prints or paintings. In Ninja, chapters describe origins of the ninja, the life of a ninja carrying out secret missions, ninja weapons, and later days of the ninja as the cult gradually faded away. Students will learn how ninja disguised themselves as ordinary workers and kept their tools and weapons concealed. (Black outfits and hoods are the gear of modern ninja practicing the martial art, ninjutsu.) Text, though brief, appears correct; illustrations range from woodblock prints to photos of artifacts; one striking print depicts a tengu, a bird demon said to be teacher of the first ninja, while another shows a panorama of Tokogawa shoguns, employers of the ninjas. For more detail, see Cheryl Whitesel's Blue Fingers: A Ninja's Tale (Clarion, 2004) or Stephen Hayes's The Ninjas and Their Secret Fighting Art (Tuttle, 1981). Parents and teachers will need to decide whether a series focusing on war, violence, and cruelty is appropriate for their children's classrooms. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-These books have great curb appeal. The texts are not too challenging and they're quite absorbing. Four chapters offer information on the time and place of each type of warrior, the lifestyle of the particular combatant, weapons and tools, and an explanation of the end of the era. Diagrams show each fighter fully prepared for battle. While "Learn About" bubbles are unnecessary distractions, highlighting what'll be presented in the chapter, "Edge Fact" boxes are cool. Illustrations are abundant and interesting, for the most part. Appended glossaries offer pronunciation hints. At times gruesome (one famous knight cut a horseback-riding enemy in half), these titles are always involving. They should prove to be as popular as the "Way of the Warrior" series (Children's Press, 2005).-Anne Chapman Callaghan, Racine Public Library, WI Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Cynthia Martin has worked in comics and animation since 1983. Her credits include Star Wars, Spider-Man, and Wonder Woman for Marvel Comics and DC Comics, in addition to work as a storyboard artist for Sony Children's Entertainment and the Krislin Company. Cynthia's recent projects include an extensive series of graphic novels for Capstone Press and two issues of Blue Beetle for DC Comics. She also illustrated the book Alley of Shadows, published by Stone Arch Books.