Friday, July 13, 2018

Fact Friday: Raid of No Return by Nathan Hale

Raid of No Return by Nathan Hale. 128 p. Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales series #7. Amulet Books/ Abrams, November, 2017. 0891419725562. (Review from finished copy courtesy of the publisher.)

Please bear with me while I take the long way around to the review in this post. If you don't have the patience to read about debates that librarians have, with themselves and other librarians, jump down to the * below. (Scroll down. Sorry, I don't know how to create an anchor link!)

Cataloging books for the collection can be confounding sometimes. Take The Magic School Bus series. My mentor had them cataloged as non-fiction and so, the books were all over the non-fiction section. If a young patron was a fan of the series, we looked it up in the catalog and jotted down all the Dewey numbers to find them. When I took over the library after my mentor's retirement, I re-cataloged them all to FIC, so they would be all together on one shelf and easily found. Even though the books were crammed with facts, the magic school bus aspect  technically negated its eligibility for the non-fiction/ informational section. Really, it was the ease of having all the books together that drove my decision. 

But my cataloging conundrums continued over the years. I had a couple of skateboard fanatics, so I bought a bunch of skateboarding books, including Tony Hawk's autobiography. My gut was to catalog the Hawk book in the biography section, but then I paused, thinking that my skate boarders know where the skateboarding books are kept and might miss the addition of this autobiography if I put it in the biography section instead of with the other skateboarding books. But then, when students come in looking for a biography for the biography unit, it's easier to peruse the biographies in the biography section than to look by sport for the biographies there. Hm.

A similar dilemma arose with the multi-author, multi-platform 39 Clues and similar series. At first, I cataloged them by author, until the series got popular, then I re-cataloged them under the series name for easier discovery. 

A few years back, I bought a graphic novel series about the battles of World War II. I chose to put them in the 940s along with the other informational titles about the battles of that war. They get read by my readers interested in World War II, but don't get discovered by my graphic novel readers. I figured my fact hounds might discover the wonder of graphic novels if I placed those books in the subject area. 

When the first Hazardous Tale released, I cataloged it as 741.5 Hale, where the bulk of my GNs go. As each sequel released, they all sit side-by-side in numerical order. Imagine trying to find them were they cataloged by Dewey subject? 

I haven't read them all, but while they are factually correct, the story is narrated by Nathan Hale, a Revolutionary War figure who gleaned future historical events by virtue of his placement in an American History book! A weird sort of time travel, eh?

Here's another little cataloging wrinkle. We tend to call the Dewey numbers, "non-fiction." The non-fiction section has become equated with "real" or informational literature. The fiction goes in the fiction section, right? Well, technically, wrong. When Dewey organized his system, fiction had a Dewey number in the 800s. In most libraries now, the 800s house poetry and plays and the fiction goes in, well, the fiction section. Technically, all fiction could be assigned a Dewey number. You might occasionally see a literary novel given an 800 number in CIP information on the copyright page. (Though seeing any CIP info is becoming rarer and rarer nowadays.)

Confused yet? How about fairy tales? Well, they have a Dewey number too. 398.2 (plus a complicated extended number that matches the country's Dewey number, oy!) And why are fairy tales given a 300 number? Because they are associated with a culture and that's where the books on social sciences, which includes culture, go. 

I digress. Back to 741.5. That is the Dewey assignation for the graphic novel format. When graphic novels became increasingly popular some years back, some libraries got creative with their cataloging. Some are cataloged as fiction and filed with the rest of the novels. The graphic novels that come each month in my JLG subscription are cataloged as fiction. I re-catalog them each month. Some libraries created separate shelves for their GN collections. Mine mostly  reside on the 741.5 shelf. My GN fans quickly learn the number and they head right to the section.

Okay. Why this not-so-little bird walk? As I contemplated what book would be featured on this week's Fact Friday, I realized that I hadn't read a new work of informational literature in a while. As I cast back in memory, I had trouble coming up with one that I hadn't already featured. Then my eyes fell on my stack of books for review and I spied Raid of No Return. Could I review it for Fact Friday? A quick check of the county library cooperative I belong to yielded this result: there are 33 copies in the system, only 17 of which are available for check-out. Three are cataloged as JNF(Juvenile Non-Fiction); one as 741.5; one as JF (Juvenile Fiction) 940.54 (!) and the rest are cataloged as JF Graphic Novel. 

So, the majority of libraries consider the series a work of fiction. Considering the amount of research Hale puts into each of these, I'm going to go with featuring it today on Fact Friday. Thanks for your patience.

*Or not. My review:

The Raid of No Return is the seventh Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales entry and highlights a secret mission known as the "Doolittle Mission" or the "Tokyo Raid." Nathan Hale, the author/ artist opens this volume with a short recap of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Hale's visual of the utter destruction of the Naval Fleet was sobering. 

Using a his signature limited-color palette, this time, blues and grays, apropos for a story centered mostly at sea, Hale recounts the story of this historic air raid in vivid detail from idea to its aftermath. 

When legendary stunt pilot, James, Jimmy, Doolittle called for volunteers for a top-secret mission, he received more than the eighty he needed. Most of these volunteers were Army B-52 pilots. Imagine their surprise when they arrived at training to find a Navy officer as their teacher and taught to get their modified aircraft airborne in a very short distance. Turns out their secret mission was a bombing raid over Japan. But getting out alive once the bombs were dropped was the tricky part. They had to try to make it over the border to China and hope that they didn't land or crash in Japanese-occupied areas of China. 

Eighty men went on this mission, which was not the greatest military success, but struck a psychological blow to Japan and its citizens and boosted American morale. I will leave it to you to read the story to discover how many men made it back. I will say though, there may be tears near the end.

This series should be in every school and public as well as classroom library. They really make learning history fun. Give this to your military history buffs as well as your general graphic novel fans. I hope the series continues. It is just terrific. 

Many thanks to Jenny and the team at Amulet/ Abrams for the opportunity to read and review Raid of No Return. Thanks also to the author for the informative chat and cool autograph.

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