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Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Donner Dinner Party

Review

Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Donner Dinner Party

How hungry do you have to be to eat your own shoe? Would you even eat a rug?  If you’re really starving, almost anything is better than nothing, and that’s exactly how members of the Donner Party felt back in 1846. Through a series of terrible mishaps and bad instructions, this group of hardy pioneers became trapped in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada. Their situation went from bad to worse when the snows continued to accumulate, leaving them helpless to the forces of nature. Their story has fascinated historians for years, not only because there were actually some survivors, but because of the evidence left behind. In order to live they had begun to eat the bodies of the dead.
"Nathan Hale does not hold back in his depictions of their grim story. His pictures are beautifully rendered and appealing, even when they show horrible experiences."
In this marvelous graphic book version of the Donner’s tragedy, artist/writer, Nathan Hale does not hold back in his depictions of their grim story. His pictures are beautifully rendered and appealing, even when they show horrible experiences. At the book's end, he devotes two pages to show all of the members involved in this trip and what their fates were. Hale’s attention to detail is a great plus when trying to understand how everything came together and then steadily fell apart for this doomed group of people.
 
This is the third book in a series called Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales. Though not directly related to the famous spy, Hale is fascinated by history and has begun this series with the idea of bringing infamous and great events in history to children in an entertaining, educational and illustrative way. He uses the infamous spy to narrate the story and presents an overly sensitive sidekick, known as “the Hangman,” to banter ideas back and forth. Together, they give lots of energy to the movement of the tale. 
 
Teachers and librarians are sure to be pleased with the painstaking research. There are excellent, easy-to-understand maps charting this perilous journey; a wonderful reference page listing the sources used; a page with actual photos of some of the survivors and what became of them; and a page devoted to the one young man who died when he ate too much food. There is a little character called “Correction Baby,” which Hale created to verify questionable situations or queries his readers might have. There is even a website: correctionbaby@hazardoustales.com. All in all, great amounts of useful information with outstanding sources are made available for further study. Hale has definitely helped spark a new interest in history through these books.

Reviewed by Sally Tibbetts on August 8, 2013

Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Donner Dinner Party
by Nathan Hale

  • Publication Date: August 6, 2013
  • Genres: Historical Fiction
  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Amulet Books
  • ISBN-10: 1419708562
  • ISBN-13: 9781419708565