Sunday, June 13, 2010

American History Graphic Novel

The Dreamer: The Consequence of Nathan Hale

What a fun read! The Dreamer: The Consequence of Nathan Hale by Lora Innes is a YA graphic novel that leads readers into America of 1776 when patriots were fighting for their lives against the British war machine. Dreamer, opens with a great two page summary of the American Revolution, "which brings us to the events described in the following pages…" Modern teen Beatrice Whaley is in love with the man of her dreams, literally. Every time Beatrice falls asleep she dreams of hunky Alan Warren a historical figure from America's Revolution who rescues her from being held hostage on British General Howe's ship in Long Island Sound. Soon after, Warren tries to engage historical figure Nathan Hale into delivering her safety to Boston just as British troops invade Long Island and General Washington is retreating with the entire Continental Army to Manhattan.

As in any good action story, Beatrice lands right in the middle of a battle in the Jamaica Pass as it was fought in Revolutionary War times. Rescue of the Damsel in distress by Hale, additional historical figure Thomas Knowlton and Warren all become parts of the exciting plot as guerilla warfare and life behind the Continental Army lines are portrayed.

In life between dreams, Beatrice cannot convince her friends of the conflict that is ongoing for her which complicates friendships and a new romance with a boy that she's had a crush on for years who is finally showing interest. By the end of the novel readers are offered a link to learn more about the story and characters of Dreamer which looks to be the beginning of a series. Hooray! At the site, the author also sells additional historical short stories that look interesting—although I did not buy any. Innes maintains a blog that fans can read in and participate in. The author has a true passion for this historical period.

Dreamer is a true YA graphic novel (look in the 741 Dewey numbers of the library for graphic novels) which means it has the look of a comic book but all the elements of a novel: the story is carried in chapters with consistent setting, characters and plot from beginning to end. What I enjoy about Dreamer is its appeal to female teens who may be reluctant readers of American History. There are a few words, and artwork that seats this novel securely on the YA shelf and not in the Juvenile section– be aware if you offer this novel to younger, high-level readers. I would say the content is similar and even a bit tamer than that of a daytime soap opera as far as age appropriateness. The love story is definitely "girl-ish" in nature…but a great way of making history more interesting than a typical text or even difficult to read 18th century primary sources for young women. I look forward to seeing more from this author. Additional helpful reviews can be found at

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