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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Major Impossible

This action-packed adventure graphic novel is book 9 in the series. It revolves around adventurer John Wesley Powell, who would come to be known as one of the most heroic adventurers in American History. As a young man, he wandered all over the United States exploring.

In 1869 he organized the Colorado River Exploring Expedition, ten men in four boats, one Grand Canyon. The story starts with an introduction of spy Nathan Hale, who was executed on September 22, 1776. Just before the hanging procedes, the hangman is hesitating because he won’t get any more stories if Hale is killed. Now, is it weird that I am finding humor in this? We know history, and we know that Nathan Hale died by hanging. And, he certainly, wasn’t telling the Provost and the Hangman true stories of American history, even though the novel blends fiction with nonfiction, it is genuinely entertaining. 

These books are bestsellers, and I can see why. Do these novels meet the Newbery criteria? Although enjoyable, probably not. This one was just released yesterday, I would like to ask our Heavy Medal Readers these questions

  • Although the author does include a bibliography at the end of the book. Is it ok to take some points and the author’s version of the events?
  • Do you think that it was in the best interest of the author to mention that John Wesley Powell’s father was an abolitionist? And the impact it had on his family?
  • Do titles like Hazardous Tales carry any educational potential as demanded by the Newbery Terms and Criteria?

I’ll leave you with a quote at the end of the book:

“The wonders of the Grand Canyon cannot be adequately represented in symbols of speech, nor by speech itself. The resources of the graphic art are taxed beyond their powers in attempting to portray its features. Language and illustration combined must FAIL”

Annisha Jeffries About Annisha Jeffries

Annisha Jeffries is the head of the youth services department at Cleveland Public Library. She was a member of the 2007 ALSC Board and served on several selection committees, including the 2018 Caldecott Committee. A 2000-2001 Spectrum Scholarship recipient, Jeffries is currently the Chair of the Norman A, Sugarman Children's Biography Award.
She can be reached at


  1. I doubt I will get to read this book for some time, as the moment I had it processes the hold line was crazy long. Hale does what so many non-fiction writer fall short of, creates a panic.

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