NONFICTION

Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: The Underground Abductor (An Abolitionist Tale)

illus. by Nathan Hale. 128p. (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales). bibliog. photos. Abrams/Amulet. 2015. Tr $12.95. ISBN 9781419715365.
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RedReviewStarGr 3-7— In this series, a fictionalized Nathan Hale (a patriot from the American Revolutionary War) tells stories about America’s most extraordinary heroes and villains. In this installment, Hale tells his British captors about Harriet Tubman, the spy and nurse who helped hundreds of American slaves run away in the 1800s on the Underground Railroad. Although several children’s books about Tubman exist (all conveniently listed in a bibliography), the author injects danger, espionage, and slapstick humor into his work, as he peels back the layers of this courageous woman’s rebellion. The title begins with Tubman’s childhood and tracks her life, also discussing other notables in the war against slavery, such as Nat Turner and Frederick Douglass. Though the focus is on Tubman, the book touches upon the issue of slavery and its effect on the nation’s history, which may spark conversations among students and may encourage them to seek out more information. Rendered in gray and purple ink wash, the cartoonlike illustrations use comic book conventions to animate a piece of history that may otherwise seem distant and inaccessible to today’s readers. Those who enjoy Lauren Tarshis’s “I Survived” (Scholastic) series and other action-packed historical fiction will devour this title.
VERDICT A first-choice selection for any children’s library and a fresh addition to Black History Month and Women’s History Month book lists.—Jaclyn Anderson, Madison County Library System, MS
In this fifth graphic novel, Revolutionary War hero Nathan Hale continues to distract his executioners; here the focus is on slavery in America and Harriet Tubman's courageous abolitionist work. As in previous volumes, irreverent humor makes a complicated story more accessible. Readers will appreciate the compelling history lesson (provided they're not put off by the small panel illustrations and tiny type). Reading list.

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