Disclosure: I don't think I had to pay for a copy of this book. I'm pretty sure I'm talking about a complimentary copy received at ALA. Publishers, please take into consideration that I can be persuaded by free stuff.
Nathan Hale is an artist who has illustrated a series of historical graphic novels, Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales which provide an entertaining look at some moments in history. They don't need to be read in order. I have not read the first, One Dead Spy, which is about Nathan Hale the spy. The third volume is Donner Dinner Party which I haven't read but probably involves people eating people in the western wilderness.
The subject of Big Bad Ironclad! is the Battle of Hampton Roads between the US Navy's ironclad Monitor and the Confederate Navy's ironclad Virginia (formerly Merrimack). It also includes amusing tales of the antics of Commander Cushing whose pluck and pranks turned a misfit naval cadet into a decorated hero. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and assure you that I learned more than I probably would have from a boring history lecture. I'm sure middle grade (and more advanced) readers will enjoy these books.