Texas Bluebonnet Award 2014-2015

Resources for the TBA Nominees

One Dead Spy


Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: One Dead Spy
Nathan Hale

Scroll down to find Related Activities & Resources, Book Talk Teasers, Read Alikes, and Book Reviews.

Readers Theater Script – One Dead Spy (PDF)



Brainy quotes:

The Declaration of Independence text:

American Revolution timeline:

The minutemen:

The Boston Tea Party:

Lexington and Concord:

George Washington commander in chief:


Benedict Arnold:

The Green Mountain Boys:

Green Mountain Boys:

Continental Army:

Artillery of the American Revolution:

Weapons of the American Revolution:

The Culper Gang:
http://www.clements.umich.ed u/exhibits/online/spies/stories-networks-3.html

Spy letters of the American Revolution:

Secret methods and techniques:

Classroom activities:

Invisible ink recipes:

Grid code:

Julius Caesar’s Letter code:

Backward writing code:

Pill code:

Braille system:

First letter replacement code:

Morse code:

Playing cards hideout (Scroll down):

How to build a periscope (Scroll down):

Keyhole spy tool:

Spy ID card (Scroll down):

Easy secret codes with cypher wheel:

How to make a book safe:

Make invisible ink (Scroll down):

Make fingerprint powder:

Make a spy journal:


Curricular themes (Click on the links below the line for more information): http://www.clements.umich.edu/exhibits/online/spies/lounge-curricular.html

Study questions:

Steps to knowing if ice is safe:

British redcoat photo:

H.M.S. Asia British warship:

Patrick Henry is known for saying, “Give me liberty or give me death”. Nathan Hale is known for saying, “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” If you could be known for saying one thing what would it be?

In One Dead Spy, Nathan Hale falls into a history book.  If you could fall into history and experience another time, what would you choose and why?

Henry Knox thickened the ice of the Hudson River by pouring water from the river onto one spot on the river.  He was able to move 60 tons of cannons across the river because of his idea. His men didn’t think it would work at first but still followed him.  Would you have followed him? Can you think of another way to get the cannons across the river? Brainstorm ideas.

Washington has the army build a fort in small pieces called chandeliers. In one night, his men moved all the parts up the hill and the next morning, the British saw a completed fort where there was nothing the day before. What does this tell you about Washington as a leader?  If this event took place today, would he have been able to pull it off? Explain.

If you were alive during the American Revolution, would you have volunteered for a spy mission? Do you believe you would be a good spy? Explain.

What characteristics do Nathan Hale, George Washington and Henry Knox have that made them great leaders? What leaders do we have today that have these same qualities?

Biographical information on Nathan Hale, Henry Knox, Thomas Knowlton, Ethan Allen, Benedict Arnold, Robert Rogers, Stephen Hempstead, and Benjamin Tallmadge is found in the back of One Dead Spy.

The study questions website listed above has excellent discussion questions for debate.

Make a spy letter quill. The spies of the American Revolution hid letters in hollow objects like the hollow quill of a feather. Have children write spy letters and roll them tightly and put them in a fat straw from somewhere like McDonalds.

Make spy tools. There is an extensive list of tools to make from the websites above with directions.

Make up your own spy letters. There are several codes to choose from with directions in the above websites.


Read back cover


Graphic Novels, Nonfiction, History:

Abnett, Dan. The Battle of Gettysburg. The most famous battle ever fought on American soil comes alive in a powerful retelling of the titanic clash between two great armies. What started as a search for shoes by the Confederate army evolved into the battle that changed the course of American history. Relive the triumphs, failures, and amazing blunders of one of America’s greatest armed conflicts. (NoveList)

Abnett, Dan. The Monitor vs. the Merrimac. In this historic clash in March 1862, the Union Monitor, called by many a “cheese box on a raft,” exchanged cannon shot after cannon shot with the Confederate Merrimac, comically referred to as a “floating barn roof.” Although an indecisive victory for either side, the spectacular event, witnessed by hundreds of people on nearby boats and shorelines, forever changed the way naval warfare was to be fought. (NoveList)

Hale, Nathan. Big bad ironclad!. Revolutionary War spy, Nathan Hale, tells a hangman and British officer about the ironclad steam warships used in the Civil War. (NoveList)

Graphic Novel, Nonfiction, Biography:

Burgan, Michael. Benedict Arnold. In graphic novel format, tells the story of Benedict Arnold’s heroism and betrayal during the American Revolution. (NoveList)

Collins, Terry. Robert E. Lee. In graphic novel format, presents Lee’s surrender to Grant at the end of the Civil War, as he recalls some of the war’s most significant battles–Provided by publisher. (NoveList)

Espinosa, Rod. Patrick Henry. Presents in graphic novel format the life and accomplishments of the Virginia politician who was known for his stirring speeches and eloquent writing. (NoveList)

Doeden, Matt. George Washington. In graphic novel format, tells of the life and accomplishments of the first president of the United States, George Washington. (NoveList)

Doeden, Matt. Samuel Adams. Tells the story of American patriot Samuel Adams and his role in the events that led to the Revolutionary War. (NoveList)

Olson, Kay Melchisedech. Betsy Ross and the American flag. In graphic novel format, describes the life of Betsy Ross, including the legend of how she came to sew the first American flag. (NoveList)


Roop, Peter. Buttons for General Washington. Reconstructs a possible mission of John Darragh, a fourteen-year-old Quaker spy who carried messages to George Washington’s camp in the buttons of his coat during the Revolutionary War. (NoveList)

Allen, Thomas B. George Washington, spymaster: how America outspied the British and won the Revolutionary War. A biography of Revolutionary War general and first President of the United States, George Washington, focusing on his use of spies to gather intelligence that helped the colonies win the war. (NoveList)

Avi. Iron thunder: the battle between the Monitor & the Merrimac: a Civil War novel. After his father is killed during the Civil War, thirteen-year-old Tom takes on a job to at the ironworks to support his family, and finds himself a target of ruthless spies when he begins assisting with the ironclad ship the “Monitor.” (NoveList)

Janeczko, Paul B. The dark game: true spy stories from the Revolution to the 21st century. From clothesline codes to surveillance satellites and cyber espionage, Janeczko uncovers two centuries’ worth of true spy stories in U.S. history. (NoveList)

Moss, Marissa. Nurse, soldier, spy: the story of Sarah Edmonds, a Civil War hero. A story of a nineteen-year-old woman who disguised herself as a man to avoid an unwanted marriage and who distinguished herself as a male nurse during the Civil War, and later as a spy for the Union Army. (NoveList)

Abela, Deborah. Mission: Spy Force revealed. When eleven-year-old Australians, Max and Linden, become new card-carrying members of Spyforce, their first assignment is to go to London and foil Mr. Blue’s latest scheme of using food to turn the world’s children  into zombies. (NoveList)

Attention-grabbing, Humorous, Boys:

Cressida, Cowell. How to train your dragon. Chronicles the adventures and misadventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third as he tries to pass the important initiation of his Viking clan, the Tribe of the Hairy Hooligans, by catching and training a dragon. (Novelist)

DeFelice, Cynthia C. Weasel. Alone in the frontier wilderness of Ohio in the winter of 1839 while his father is recovering from an injury, eleven-year-old Nathan runs afoul of the renegade killer known as Weasel and makes a surprising discovery about the concept of revenge. (NoveList)

DeFelice, Cynthia C. The apprenticeship of Lucas Whitaker. In 1849 a boy becomes a doctor’s apprentice after losing his family to “consumption.” (NoveList)

Talbott, Hudson. King Arthur and the Round Table. Retells the story of how the young Arthur became High King of all Britain and assembled the Knights of the Round Table. (NoveList)

Talbott, Hudson. Safari journal: the adventures in Africa of Carey Monroe. Twelve-year-old Carey is unhappy about being sent on a trip to Kenya with his wacky Aunt Elaine, until he encounters fascinating customs, endangered animals, and wild adventures. (NoveList)


One Dead Spy. By Nathan Hale. Illus. by Nathan Hale. 2012. 128p. Abrams/Amulet, $12.95 (9781419703966). 741.5. Gr 3–6. (Booklist, August, 2012).

The history books tell us that Nathan Hale, Revolutionary War hero, was hanged for spying in 1776. They don’t mention that, before he died, he was swallowed by a giant, magical history book, which imbued him with full knowledge of the future and returned him to the gallows so he could recount the story of the war to a British soldier and a slightly dimwitted hangman. Another Nathan Hale, comics author and also illustrator of Rapunzel’s Revenge (2008) and Calamity Jack (2010), uses this device to launch a new Revolutionary War–centric historical series. The tone and humor remind one of Steve Sheinkin’s exceedingly clever anti-textbooks (King George: What Was His Problem?, 2008), but, though biographical notes and further readings are included, several relationships, motives, and even Hale’s presence at certain events are pure conjecture. So, though this is not ideal for straight facts, there is a great deal of charm, both in the characters and in the cartoonish and evocative panels that crowd the digest-sized pages. This first book in Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales imbues some personality into the history.— Jesse Karp

Horn Book:
Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Big Bad Ironclad!

by Nathan Hale; illus. by the author
Intermediate, Middle School     Amulet/Abrams     128 pp.
8/12     978-1-4197-0395-9     $12.95

Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: One Dead Spy
by Nathan Hale; illus. by the author
Intermediate, Middle School     Amulet /Abrams     128 pp.
8/12     978-1-4197-0396-6     $12.95

Readers interested in American history will enjoy these graphic novels, the start of a series by Rapunzel’s Revenge (rev. 11/08) and Calamity Jack (rev. 3/10) illustrator Nathan Hale. In One Dead Spy,  Revolutionary War hero Nathan Hale (no relation to the book’s author, though he milks the joke to good effect) stalls his execution by thrillingly recounting his adventures to the bumbling hangman and a staid Redcoat jailor. Big Bad Ironclad! finds Hale narrating the Civil War naval battle between the Merrimac/Virginia and the Monitor. (A magical reference book that imparts its wisdom to Hale allows for the anachronism.) Comic panels of varying sizes enhance the real-life events and support the stories’ over-the-top humor. The pages are crowded, but the writing is accessible and entertaining; author Hale’s style gives readers an insider-y, you are there–type scoop. Budding historians will also appreciate the back matter, including brief biographies of the main players and (sort of) bibliographies. Ironclad includes a timeline, and Spy has an appended “mini-comic”: “Crispus Attucks: First to Defy, First to Die!” DORCAS HAND – Reprinted from The Horn Book Magazine by permission of The Horn Book, Inc., www.hbook.com


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