Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: One Dead Spy

by Nathan Hale
ages: 9+
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I suppose if your name is Nathan Hale and you are an illustrator, it’s probably inevitable that you do a graphic novel series on American History. And,  as part of that, do one on the Revolutionary War spy, Nathan Hale.

On the one hand, I found this graphic history to be highly entertaining. Hale framed the story around the execution of Revolutionary Hale, allowing him to tell his story to the hangman and a lone British soldier. They weave in and out with commentary and gallows humor (har har), but get all the basic historical facts in there. It’s history and at times it’s entertaining.

On the other hand, though, it’s cluttered. It’s not laid out very well — chapters would sometimes start in the middle or near the end of the page. I found it really hard, visually, to get into the story, to keep track of each of the players. Half the time, I didn’t know whether or not Hale was even a part of the action. It didn’t draw me into the story, and it sure didn’t often keep me there.

It’s a good idea, telling history in graphic novel form, making it more accessible to the younger kids that way. I just wish it could have engaged me more.

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