- Age Range: 8 - 14 years
- Grade Level: 3 - 9
- Lexile Measure: GN370L (What's this?)
- Series: Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales (Book 5)
- Hardcover: 128 pages
- Publisher: Amulet Books (April 21, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1419715364
- ISBN-13: 978-1419715365
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 7.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 64 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,737 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Underground Abductor (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #5): An Abolitionist Tale about Harriet Tubman Hardcover – April 21, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 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. KEY: * Excellent in relation to other titles on the same subject or in the same genre | e eBook original Tr Hardcover trade binding | RTE Reinforced trade binding | lib.ed. Publisher's library binding Board Board book | pap. Paperback | BL Bilingual
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Brief Summary: Like every other Hazardous Tale, (the historical) Nathan Hale tells a British officer and his executioner a story before he is hung. They want a story which doesn't show that “everything America does is perfect.” In this tale, the main character is Harriet Tubman, born Araminta “Minty” Ross. We see her grow up, bounce among several owners, resolve to be free, and become the famous conductor on the Underground Railroad we all learned about in school.
What I like:
-Hale does an excellent job of exposing the dark years of slavery while not divulging too much which might overwhelm a reader relatively new to the subject.
-“The Adventures of Tiny Fredrick Douglas” introduces readers to this very important historical figure while keeping with the flow of the book.
-John Brown’s importance to the abolitionist movement is also briefly but well explained.
-Harriet Tubman’s desire to be free and give freedom to others shines through. An old injury didn’t make her an ideal guide, but her tenacity to get the job done can be felt in the pages.
-Different methods used to smuggle runaways are illustrated and scattered appropriately through the text.
-Simple but well planned illustrations make complex situations attainable for all readers.
-Inside the front and back covers, a map of North America in 1850 shows free and slave states, as well as marking routes for the Underground Railroad.
-I didn't learn as much from this book as from others by Hale. Harriet Tubman, while certainly “hazardous,” is a more familiar to most people, I’d think.
-The executioner and British soldier characters seemed to interrupt the story more than help tell the story (as done in others by Hale).
- At times the story seemed to jump without warning. A couple times I found myself checking the page numbers to make sure I didn't skip a page.
-All the back and forth in Harriet’s travels made who she was rescuing confusing at times.
Overall, nice job, Mr. Hale. Thank you for sharing your talents and passion for history with us.
tl;dr – 4.5/5 stars. For grade 4 to adults, a good overview of slavery, Harriet Tubman, and the Underground Railroad.
We have all of the "Hazardous Tales" books. I pre-order them as soon as I can. My son has read and re-read all of them, and they have even inspired him to find other books to expand his knowledge. Can't wait for the next one!
"The Underground Abductor" is the story of Harriet Tubman, and is the first in the series that's a biography of a single person. It's a break in the formula that Hale has established, but is still able to use one woman's story as an exemplar of what's happening in the wider story of American History. In this case, slavery and the abolitionist movement in the antebellum South.
The format is the same as the other books in this series: American patriot/spy Nathan Hale is at the gallows, about to be executed by a Hangman and British Provost. As he's about to die, he's able to magically see all of American History, and entertains the Hangman and Provost with the tales, Sheherazade-style. At the beginning of this story, the Provost (stuffy, very British) says essentially "all of these stories are about how America is so great, so special, the best country ever..." which Hale admits to, but does say that the country has made many mistakes, and that slavery is one of the worst.
Hale (the author) does a good job of laying out the history of slavery quickly getting us up to the 1830s, when Harriet Tubman was a young girl. Back then she was "Araminta Ross," and she keeps that name for the half of the book before she escapes to freedom. Her story gives us a good look at what the institution of slavery was like in the south at the time...in a word, terrible. Hale is able to do this in a way that honors the pain and condemns the horrors of slavery, but is still appropriate for the target audience of 5th - 8th graders. I wouldn't say it's sanitized; he gets into the fugitive slave laws, and punishments including hobbling. He describes and shows the beating of Araminta and other slaves, and there are passages that are a hard read because of that. Throughout, Hale's cartoony style of illustration is able to convey the humanity of these people, but soften some of the harder edges of history.
In the middle of telling Harriet Tubman's story, Hale takes two small detours to tell other stories that fit into the same time period and subject: the Nat Turner Rebellion and the story of Frederick Douglass. He's able to tell both succinctly, and their inclusion gives us a broader view of what was happening outside of Tubman's relatively small world.
If you're into history, or graphic novels, or have kids who are, this is an excellent entry into one of the best current series for middle grade readers.
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