Big Bad Ironclad!

Big Bad Ironclad!

A Civil War Steamship Showdown

Graphic Novel - 2012
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Each of the books in Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales has elements of the strange but true and is presented in an engaging, funny format, highlighting the larger-than-life characters that pop up in real history. Big Bad Ironclad! covers the history of the amazing ironclad steam warships used in the Civil War.
From the ship's inventor, who had a history of blowing things up and only 100 days to complete his project, to the mischievous William Cushing, who pranked his way through the whole war, this book is filled with surprisingly true facts and funny, brave characters that modern readers will easily relate to.

Praise for Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Big Bad Ironclad
"Livelier than the typical history textbook but sillier than the many outstanding works on the Civil War available for young readers, this will appeal to both history buffs and graphic-novel enthusiasts."
-- Kirkus Reviews

"Readers interested in American history will enjoy these graphic novels... Comic panels of varying sizes enhance the real-life events and support the stories' over-the-top humor... the writing is accessible and entertaining; author Hale's style gives readers an insider-y, you-are-there-type scoop."
-- Horn Book

New York Public Library's Children's Books 2012: 100 Books for Reading and Sharing list
Publisher: New York : Amulet Books, 2012.
ISBN: 9781419703959
Branch Call Number: j GN 973.75 HALE N
Characteristics: 118 pages : chiefly color illustrations, color maps ; 20 cm


From the critics

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Jul 23, 2017

Fun and cool way to learn about the civil war.

Jun 08, 2017

Author balanced the serious, tragic & the farce.
Kind of cruel as Mr. Gustavus Fox depicted as actual fox, but graphic novel designed for kids.

Nov 19, 2016

Nathan Hale was a soldier and spy during the U.S. Revolutionary War who was executed by the British in 1776. Nathan Hale is (also) an author and cartoonist who was born in 1976, and who wrote and illustrated this book. The story begins on September 22, 1976, as the spy Hale is about to be executed by hanging. However, it's revealed that he was (at some point) swallowed by a giant history book and has mystical powers of telling the future. So he's granted a stay of execution to tell his captors a story about the Civil War.

I know it sounds completely bizarre. And honestly I find the whole impending execution part somewhat distressing. If he'd been hanged at the end, I wouldn't be recommending this for children! Instead, he's asked for another story, allowing the reader the fiction that he could keep going forever. And the stories he tells are hilarious. The personalities Hale depicts for so many of these historical figures are probably way over the top, but it makes the stories entertaining and compelling. Even if you have no interest in Civil War history, give this a whirl.

JCLLeslieN Dec 24, 2013

Makes history fun!


I say that this series bears some similarities to other historical graphic novel series, but the fact of the matter is, and let's face it, they're 500% more fun than any of their competitors out there. The fictional trope of Nathan Hale telling his story to the child stand-in hangman and grown-up/authority figure stand-in of the Provost Marshal gives him the perfect Greek chorus. Against the hangman's silliness and the Marshall's pomposity Hale has the perfect dual comic foil. The end result is a comic book series that will amuse and teach and teach and amuse and generally please parents, teacher, and kids alike. A truly rare beast.


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Feb 07, 2018

TayBry thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

Jul 22, 2016

red_hyena_30 thinks this title is suitable for 9 years and over

Jul 27, 2014

lchodorow thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 9 and 12


ELIZABETH RAMSEY BIRD thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 9 and 12


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Big Bad Ironclad is actually even stronger than its predecessor. By this point Hale has expanded a bit and isn’t restricting himself to mere Revolutionary War stories. We’ve skipped forward to the Civil War, which makes for kooky stories galore. I’m sure I’d heard the story of the Merrimack and the Monitor but never in such glowing terms. Hale rightly seeks out and brings to light the story of William Barker Cushing, a prankster who used his pranking skills to help win the war for the Union, as well as a cussing Swede and other interesting folks involved in the Civil War’s naval battles. Also, by book #2 Hale is giving himself a little more literary leeway. A character with the last name of Fox is presented as a walking talking fuzzy animal, acknowledged as too crazy to be accurate, but giving the book a bit of that old kid-friendly zing.


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