by Nathan Hale
Amulet Books, $13.99
The latest installment (the eighth!) of the popular graphic history series Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales returns to the setting of the first book, the US Revolutionary War. Spy Hale is still telling stories to prevent being hanged by the Hangman and a British redcoat. This time, it’s the story of the Marquis de Lafayette and his love of battle and adventure.
Gilbert du Motier gained his title at a young age and was orphaned at 13. Although forced into the life of a rich aristocrat, with required lessons, proper dress, and an arranged marriage, he craved excitement. In keeping with his family’s military history, he sailed for America to help with the Revolution at age 19.
His connections got him made a major general, but his skills and training made him successful. (Even if sometimes it seems he succeeded through blind luck.) His fortune, with which he was generous when helping other soldiers, didn’t hurt either.
All of the entries in Hale’s series are worth reading, but some are more complicated than others. This one is more straightforward, with plenty of fights and lots of bold and daring deeds. The densely populated pages have lots to see and read, in order to fit so much history in, but they’re easy to follow and reward re-reading.
Aside from George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Marie Antoinette, Benjamin Franklin, and Molly Pitcher make appearances. There’s also a chapter included about Benedict Arnold.
The ever-present humor keeps things entertaining, with the Hangman in particular representing the attitude of the younger reader. For instance, he’s tickled by how the Kingdom of France has flying naked babies on their flag, and he interrupts the main story to demand an aside about a killer beast be explained, because he loves the exciting bits. Lafayette is wonderful to read about, as he’s always optimistic, and he wants to learn (and fight) more than telling others what to do.
As with the other Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales, Lafayette is funny, violent, and most always true. The books are a terrific way to interest kids in history.
Johanna Draper Carlson has been reviewing comics for over 20 years. She manages ComicsWorthReading.com, the longest-running independent review site online that covers all genres of comic books, graphic novels, and manga. She has an MA in popular culture, studying online fandom, and was previously, among many other things, webmaster for DC Comics. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
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