Swords, lances, clubs, bows and arrowsweapons 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, including at least one gruesome incident to add a thrill. Some of the titles are better than others; some contain mistakesall offer unattributed illustrations (a major fault of this series) ranging from modern photographs and movie stills to period engravings, prints, or paintings. In
Samurai, chapters describe the Japan of emperor, daimyo, samurai, and shogun; the life of a samurai; weapons; and the decline of the samurai as western ideas were adopted. Students will learn something about the code of Bushido and the wandering life of the ronin (samurai without masters), while viewing a fanciful European impression of fourteenth-century Emperor Kogon (probably an early nineteenth-century painting). Text is generally correct; illustrations range from woodblock prints to modern photographs of Meiji Emperor Mutsuhito (18521912) and some nineteenth-century survivors of the ancient cult. For a wider view of the samurai, readers might try Eleanor Hall's Life Among the Samurai (Lucent, 1999) or Stephen Turnbull's Real Samurai: Over 20 True Stories about the Knights of Old Japan (Enchanted Lion, 2007). 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
Children's Literature - Barbara L. Talcroft
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.