'Donner Dinner Party' graphic novel author to visit Healdsburg Library

Nathan Hale, a New York Times bestselling author known for his series of kid-friendly graphic novels, will be visiting the Healdsburg Regional Library on Feb. 21 to talk about his books and demonstrate some cartoon drawing skills.

The series, which is geared toward elementary and middle school students, focuses on American history.

Donner Dinner Party

"Donner Dinner Party," by Nathan Hale 

“One thing that I’ve noticed over the years, is that his books definitely appeal to the reluctant reader,” said Healdsburg Children’s Librarian Charity Anderson. “When I have somebody where the parents are like, ‘My son doesn’t like reading, we are trying to find something to engage him,’ then this is one series that I will oftentimes recommend.”   

Anderson said Hale’s books have the unique ability of making history exciting for kids.

“They give the nonfiction and the history, but in a kind of humorous way,” Anderson said. For instance, one of his novels covers westward expansion and the story of the Donner Party and is aptly titled, “Donner Dinner Party.”

“I haven’t asked them (kids) specifically what makes them want to keep reading these, but I do think kids are drawn to history, but sometimes it’s presented in a way that really doesn’t make it fun and interesting. If you find a way like this where you do get some facts, but you get them in a form with the illustrations and humor, then it makes a really interesting picture for them,” she said.   

Anderson, who often arranges for authors to visit the library, said the idea to bring Hale to town came about when a parent made the suggestion.

“This year the mom of one of my bookclubers, who just loved these books, said, ‘Why don’t you try to bring Nathan Hale here.’ So I started working on it a year ago and when I talked with the coordinator of his bookings he only had two dates left and that was a day (Feb. 21) that worked for us,” Anderson said. 

The Friends of the Healdsburg Library will help cover costs of the event since booking authors can be expensive.

The hour-long presentation will include storytelling, a drawing demonstration and a book signing. Hale’s books will be available to purchase through Copperfield's, which will be at the library.

“I haven’t seen him in person but I’ve heard he is quite hilarious,” Anderson said of Hale.

Nathan Hale

Nathan Hale 

Hale will also make a stop at West Side School where he’ll be doing three presentations in the morning. 

“If I am bringing somebody all the way here, it would be nice if we can get a whole day’s worth of events,” Anderson said.

Last year the author of the “Antlered Ship,” Dashka Slater, did presentations at both the Healdsburg Elementary School and the library.

In anticipation of Hale’s visit, Anderson will be doing a reading of “Donner Dinner Party” at the Healdsburg Library’s book club for kids.

Anderson said reading about the Donner Party was interesting since she grew up in Iowa and didn’t learn about the ill-fated journey in school. 

Hale is also the author of several fiction graphic novels, “Apocalypse Taco,” “Calamity Jack” and “Rapunzel’s Revenge.”

“I’m in the middle of doing a reading of the ‘Donner Dinner Party,’ we also went through ‘Apocalypse Taco,’” she said.

When and where:

Friday, Feb. 21 at 4 p.m. at the Healdsburg Regional Library. 139 Piper St.


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