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The First World War is a complicated subject for even expert historians, so how can Hale squeeze it all into less than 130 pages. For starters, the focus is largely on the western front, he presents only the most pivotal battles, and, in what ends up being a clever way to distinguish between major players without a lot of text, each country involved is represented by an animal (Americans are bunnies). Yes, some of the conflicts come down to petty fighting between cartoon animals in military uniforms, but it's an effective and simple way to communicate the complicated anger and nationalism that came to a boil in 1914. Hale also respectfully keeps the narrative from becoming too irreverent: amid the mood-lightening jokes are moments of real solemnity, such as when Gavrilo Princip pulls the trigger to assassinate Archduke Ferdinand and transforms from an animated gryphon to a terrified human. Students bored to death by textbook descriptions of WWI battle manoeuvres should be engaged by this entertaining, educational glimpse at world history. Grades 5-8. --Sarah Hunter
Nathan Hale is the illustrator of the graphic novel Rapunzel's Revenge, which was an Al Roker Book Club for Kids selection, an ALA notable book and a YALSA Great Graphic Novel for Teens, as well as the recipient of 3 starred reviews. He is also the illustrator of the picture book The Dinosaurs' Night Before Christmas.