It's been a while since I reviewed a book in the graphic novel series Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales - four years and three books, to be exact. With Raid of No Return, the seventh book in Hale's amazing series of graphic novels focusing on important moments in American history, he tells a powerful story that is suspenseful, emotional and almost unbelievable. I also have not reviewed a book in this series since I began working as an elementary school librarian. Knowing Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales would be popular with my students, the majority being English language learners reading below grade level, I ordered four copies of each book in the series and they are rarely on this shelf. It's amazing to be able to inspire these young readers and challenge them at the same time.
Hale's books are perfect for history lovers and those who know nothing about history (or, like me, think they don't like reading about history) alike because he always finds the most interesting way into an event. For me, Raid of No Return, was initially interesting because I have always wanted to learn more about why the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Hale delivers details about their military history, naval dominance and the needs that drove the Japanese to attack America in the first few pages of the graphic novel then dives into the story of the Doolittle Raid and the men who flew it.
Hale uses his narrator/tour guides - Nathan Hale, the Hangman (who, historically ends Hale's life) and the British Provost overseeing his execution for spying - to share details with readers outside of the narrative he creates. The three share information with readers like the fact that the Doolittle Raid was the first time since the Civil War that the Army and Navy worked cooperatively (and it's also a nod to Hale's book Big Bad Ironclad, which is about submarine battles) as well as Norden Bombsight, an early analog computer. The three also briefly discuss segregation when the hangman, seeing all the pilots assemble, asks if you have to be white to be a pilot. Nathan Hale answers, telling him to, "ask about the Tuskegee Airmen sometime." It's challenging portraying the air raid missions of the sixteen B52B bombers and the crew of five Army Air Force men on each plane, but Hale does a fine job. He also manages to keep you on the edge of your seat with the way he unfolds the events of the raid on Tokyo. And, if you are an adult, you will possibly find yourself like me, choking back tears as Raid of No Return comes to a close. Ending at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright Patterson Air Force base, Hale shares the memorial for the Doolittle Raiders, the wall of eighty silver goblets, each Raider's cup turned upside down when he died. The one goblet still standing upright belongs to Colonel Richard E. Cole, Jimmy Doolittle's copilot, to whom Raid of No Return is dedicated.
Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales 1 - 6
Source: Review Copy