Graphic Novel Review: Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales

My fifth grade son let the first book in Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales  that I brought home from the library sit around for a few weeks. I’m not sure why. Maybe it was the historical perspective, or the dense pages of graphics and text. I thought the title alone — One Dead Spy — would draw him in.

Then, he picked it up and wouldn’t put it down.

Soon, we were ordering the second book from the library — Big Bad Ironclad — and now he is clamoring for more from writer/illustrator Nathan Hale (yes, that’s his name) who writes his graphic novels with Nathan Hale (the figure from history) in the lead role, trying to stave off his execution as a spy by weaving out stories of history. It’s more lighthearted than that seems, I realize, even though Hale (the writer) chooses some pretty, eh, interesting stories to tell (the Donner Party, the start of the Civil War, etc).

But, the stories from history are alive and enriched by Hale’s use of the graphic novel medium, effectively using history as the springboard for some fascinating storytelling. Each page is rich with humor and information, and packed with drawings. These are truly novels, in graphic form.

There’s also a cool Q/A with Hale about making comics.

And Hale has started making some videos about the making of the books, which are pretty nifty.

Peace (in the tales),

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  1. I sound a bit like your son. I have the underground railroad one, but have yet to pick it up. I’m sure once I do, I’ll be clamoring to get the others!
    To answer your question from my blog, yes, I did like Secret Coders. By the time I had read it, I had seen many so-so reviews of it, so I guess I was going into it thinking it was not going to be good. I had some excitement having gone to my first “coding” workshop and I liked how the authors added that in. I did enjoy the story but it was often interrupted by the coding parts, but I think the authors wanted to give the readers that experience, so I was ok with it. My colleague handed it to her very reluctant reader 3rd gr son, and he has been reading it without being told, so I guess it’s all in the reader?

  2. Oh my, I let The Underground Abductor rotate through my to read pile before finally just giving it a go and I loved it! I don’t know why I waited to read it either, I think perhaps it was because the print seemed so small and there was SO MUCH on each page. Definitely will be recommending this series to my readers.

    • It’s interesting how a few of us had the same experience and how the physical layout was the thing that sort of stopped us from diving in, and then once we did, it was that richness of text and image that kept us there. It makes me wonder about conversations at the publishing level … (and I would fight to keep the books as dense as they are, by the way … at times, it’s like reading the margins of Mad Magazine, with all the little jokes and asides and humor)

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