Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Dogs of War by Sheila Keenan & Nathan Fox YP FIC KEENAN

Boots, Loki, Sheba.  Three dogs in three wars that wagged their take in the face of death.  Boots braves the dangers and rats of trench warfare of WW I, Loki pulls a sled in a forgotten front of WW II, and Sheba sniffs out snipers and booby traps in the jungles of Vietnam. A harrowing but hopeful look at the ravages of war and the humanity and canine-ity  that comes from unlikely heroes.

This is a gorgeously illustrated and very well measured look at war.  It has all the rousing adventure and excitement that is common of classic war movies and stories, but looks at the all-too-high human cost of war. It never turns The Enemy into an evil monolithic force, and invites the reader to both feel the fear of being fired upon and the sadness of having to fire back to survive. Best of all is it has dogs!  Great, beautiful, heroic dogs that absolutely leap off the page and into your heart!  I felt as much (if not more) tension worrying what would happen to the dogs as I did for the human characters. the book does occasionally stray very close to cliche, but the unique and detailed artwork keeps it from every feeling cheesy or stagnant. Fox uses a slew of clever artistic devices to bring the reader into the action: tight, cramped panels to press the claustrophobia of trench warfare, the use of bright color against expanses of white and light blues to play off the feeling of being all too visible against an invisible enemy, dreams and reality fading into each other for a vet that is still in the jungle even when he make sit home, and more. The only gripe I have is that it perpetuates the long discredited myth of Vietnam veterans being spat upon when returning home. This is a commonly told myth, so it doesn't distract too much from the overall story. If you are a fan of comics, then you have a great beautiful book to read, and if you like war stories at all this could be a great way to break into graphic novels.

You can find Dogs of War in our catalog here.

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