Pearl Harbor (History Smashers) by Kate Messner, illustrated by Dylan Meconis

Published by Random House Books for Young Readers

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Summary:  When Pearl Harbor was “suddenly and deliberately attacked” by Japan on December 7, 1941, it seemed as though it had come with no warning.  But Kate Messner shows that there were those who predicted an attack as far back as the 1920’s.  The declaration of war brought out the best and worst of America, as people came together to win, but also showed cruel racism against Japanese Americans and in the segregated military.  The narrative goes through Hiroshima and Nagasaki, all the way up to the 2016 visits of President Barack Obama to Hiroshima and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to Pearl Harbor. Includes a timeline; author’s note; bibliography; index; and lists of books, websites, and museums to visit.  224 pages; grades 3-7.

Pros:  Somehow I missed this series’ debut in 2020, but I’m glad I caught up with this latest volume.  The premise is to show some of the history that hasn’t always been taught, presumably because it doesn’t portray the U.S. in the best way.  Filled with personal narratives, photos, and pages of comic panels in every chapter, the fast pace and human interest focus are sure to entice both history buffs and reluctant readers. Perfect for fans of Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales.

Cons:  The focus is mostly on the war with Japan, so the European side of World War II gets a bit of a short shrift, with the Holocaust receiving a mere four sentences.

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