Graphic novels entice kids into stories with illustrated comics and compelling plots told primarily through dialogue. I love that kids (mine included) get excited to read and READ and read with graphic novels.
Want to get your kids reading more? Try these best comics and graphic novels.
Teachers, check out these content-rich graphic novels you’ll want to use in the classroom.
The Best Graphic Novels for Kids
Zoe and Robot – Let’s Pretend by Ryan Sias
Zoe really wants Robot to understand how to pretend in this cute first graphic novel from Balloon Toons!
Barry’s Best Buddy by Renee French
The Real Poop on Pigeons! by Kevin McCloskey
A Goofy Guide to Penguins by Jean-Luc Coudray & Philippe Coudray
Gryphons Aren’t So Great by James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, and Alexis Frederick-Frost
Prepare to laugh at this silly friendship story. The knight’s horse, Edward, gets jealous when his knight becomes enamored with a gryphon. When the gryphon takes the knight too high and too fast and Edward saves him. (Proving gryphons aren’t all that great!) Look for the step-by-step drawing instructions on the inside covers for drawing a bat, gryphon, knight, and horse.
Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye by Colleen AF Venable, Stephanie Yue
This is a hilarious early chapter book /graphic novel about a detective who just happens to be a guinea pig and solve mysteries in the pet store.
We Dig Worms! by Kevin McCloskey
I love, love, love this early reader book! It’s a Toon Book Early Reader so you know from the get-go that it’s going to be cartoon images, but you won’t know how the author makes worms seem so fascinating. He does this with eye-popping illustrations and one sentence of text per page that explain something about the worm — sometimes he has kids asking questions which the worm answers. He painted on recycled grocery bags which makes for a gorgeous, earthy feeling throughout. I just can’t say enough good things about this short little book!
One of our favorite graphic novels, Zita the Spacegirl, is a true friend who not only saves her best friend from aliens but the galaxy as well!
Bird and Squirrel on Ice by James Burks
Okay, this might be my new favorite graphic novel series– it’s absolutely hysterical! In this first book, Bird’s over-confident, laissez-faire character pairs perfectly with Squirrel’s logical, fearful one. The duo crash land in the Penguin world where Bird is thought to be the “Chosen One” meant to save the penguins from the Great Whale. Absolutely everything is pitch-perfect — the illustrations, the characters, the dialogue, and the pacing. I highly recommend it.
Mr. Wolf’s Class: Mystery Club by Aron Nels Steinke
The Misadventures of Salem Hyde Spelling Trouble by Frank Cammuso
What a hilarious character! We love this graphic novel about Salem Hyde, an impulsive but very cute little witch who gets confused between spelling words and casting spells. It’s like Calvin turned into a witch girl. Fantastic!
Cat Ninja by Matthew Cody, illustrated by Yehudi Mercado
By day Claude is Leon’s pet but by night, he’s Cat Ninja, Metro City’s protector! His nemesis is Leon’s sister’s evil hamster, Master Hamster. Learn their origin stories then follow them on Cat Ninja’s perilous, exciting, and humorous adventures!
Ninjago “Warriors of Stone” by Greg Farshtey and Jolyon Yates
Another fun comic adventure with Jay, Cole, Zane, Kai, and Sensei. They find themselves in a world of stone — even the people are made of stone. If you have a Ninjago or LEGO fan, they’ll love this series of graphic novels.
Babymouse #1 Queen of the World! by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm
These crack-you-up stories will resonate with young readers as they follow Babymouse through her days at school and at home, frustrations with friends, and more.
Hilo The Boy Who Crashed to Earth by Judd Winick
Hilo can’t remember what happened to him before D.J. finds him crashed into the earth. Hilo remembers an evil monster robot, and that he is a robot meant to protect his world from the bad robots — but those robots have followed Hilo to Earth. This ends of a cliff-note but is worth it — it’s a great page-turning adventure!
Giants Beware! by Jorge Aguirre illustrated by Rafael Rosado
Owly: The Way Home and The Bittersweet Summer by Andy Runton
Wordless cartoons tell the adventures of Owly and his new friend Wormy. This is a lovely book for early readers and readers who might be new to English.
Mr. Pants It’s Go Time! by Scott McCormick, illustrated by R.H. Lazzell
Mr. Pants really wants to go to laser tag but since he didn’t clean his room, his mom lets his sister (who cleaned her room) pick. Now he’s stuck going to Fairy Princess Dream Factory and when he does get to go play laser tag, it’s not exactly like he imagined. I love the drawing style — simple, bright, and cute — but even better, the story is fun and entertaining. My 9-year old has read this book at least 3 times already.
Mal and Chad by Stephen McCranie
A hilarious graphic novel book series about Mal, a young inventor, and his best sidekick, his dog, Chad. Perfect for growing readers and reminds me a little of the beloved Calvin and Hobbes.
Dog Man by Dav Pinkey
Weird. Quirky. Funny. I think all three describe this new graphic novel from the creator of Captain Underpants. In this story, a police officer and a dog are joined together — the top from the dog, the bottom from the officer to make: Dog Man. Dog Man solves crimes and has adventures, the likes of which will entertain you for hours.
Middle-Grade Readers Ages 9 – 12
This is SUCH a fantastic graphic novel series for kids! It all begins when the two siblings and their mom move into a creepy inherited house after losing their father. They discover a magical amulet that warns the kid of the danger. But soon the siblings will be on an epic adventure to save their mom in an underground world of elves, demons, robots, and talking animals. (You’re probably going to want the boxed set— kids LOVE this series!)
When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, illustrated by Victoria Jamieson and Iman Geddy
In an emotional true story of a Somali boy and his brother who grow up in a Kenyan refugee camp, readers are transported into their day to day lives filled with hunger and boredom. Omar doesn’t attend the dusty camp school until age 11 because he cares for his younger brother Hassan with special needs until their kind older guardian takes over. When the brothers get an interview with the UN, Omar gets his hopes up…but they’re not approved. Years pass with many struggles yet education and the camp friendships continue to be bright spots for Omar. The book ends with a bittersweet, wonderful new beginning.
The Croc Ate My Homework by Stephan Pastis
This book is so funny I can hardly stand it. My kids LOVED this book, as did I. It’s from the author of the Timmy Failure books and the Pearls Before Swine comic strip which curated especially for younger readers. The crocs are not the smartest and their stupidity will keep you thoroughly entertained. You’ll be sharing page after page with your family, friends, and neighbors.
6th grade is hard enough for Raina but it’s even worse with braces, headgear, and friend troubles. My 10-year-old daughter loves this series that starts with Smile. She read Sisters four times the first week she owned it — they’re all excellent books and quite addictive. ALSO READ: Drama, Sisters
Act by Kyla Miller
Olive is upset when she learns that a classmate can’t afford the fees for a class field trip. Her aunt suggests that Olive organize a protest. She does research at the library and ends up doing a petition and a sit-in. Unfortunately, no one else seems to care so Olive spontaneously runs for student counsel — which offends her friends — but she learns about other big issues students face that should be changed and works hard to make a difference. Readers will see that one girl CAN make a difference! Engaging, inspiring, and perfect for the world right now.
Big Nate Welcome to My World by Lincoln Peirce
I think the Big Nate comics are even better than the novels — they are just so stinking funny! Lincoln Peirce “gets” kids and their struggles — the episodes will keep both you and your kids cracking up.
Shirley and Jamila Save Their Summer by Gillian Goerz
All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson
Growing up, Imogene (aka. Impy) always loved her family’s part in the Renaissance Faire . . . that is, until middle school. Even though she gets her dream to work in the faire as a squire, she also just wants to be like the other girls at her school, too. Her journey is painful and honest as she figures out who she wants to be. It’s narrated as a hero’s journey which, with the faire background and middle school drama, feels perfect. Beyond being a terrific coming of age story, I’m sure this book will interest tween readers in Renaissance festivals themselves.
I Survived The Sinking of the Titanic, 1912 (Graphic Novel) by Lauren Tarshis, Georgina Ball, illustrated by Haus Studio
Retold in a graphic novel format, this tells the story of a boy on the Titanic who is traveling with his mom and sister to reunite with his father in the United States. If you have a reader who prefers graphic novels, give this historical fiction book a try.
My Beijing: Four Stories of Everyday Wonder by Nie Jun
Four sweet stories of Yu’er and her grandpa show their warm bond and Yu’er’s adventures around their Beijing neighborhood. The first story is about Yu’er’s desire to compete in the Special Olympics. Other stories include defending herself from bullies with the help of a new friend as well as a magical old mailbox that transports Yu’er through time. This is a beautifully illustrated book of stories that feels nostalgic and heartwarming.
The Baby-Sitter’s Club by Ann M. Martin, illustrated by Raina Telemeter
This classic chapter book series is now retold in cartoons! Four best friends work together to handle all sorts of issues — from babysitting to emergencies, to competition from other babysitters. Your kids will love these excellent, addictive stories. ALSO READ: (The Truth About Stacey #2, Mary Ann Saves the Day #3)
Phoebe and Her Unicorn: A Heavenly Nostrils Chronicle by Dana Simpson
Sarcastic and hilarious, this is a laugh-out-loud comic book series about a precocious young girl and her reluctant unicorn “best friend.” My kids and I adore these characters and love this new book. It’s one we’ll read over and over again. BOXED SET
Click by Kayla Miller
Click is an excellent, relatable book about friendships and finding your place –my daughter felt could have been her own story. When the talent show is announced, everyone in Olive’s friend group makes pairs and groups up but don’t include her. She feels really left out. Olive’s cool aunt watches variety show videos with her to help Olive get ideas. It does give Olive an idea — to be the host of the show. That’s something she can do on her own. I like that the book contains realistic family situations (a slightly overbearing mom,) realistic friend challenges, the relatable feeling of loneliness among your classmates, and then, a really creative resolution. The artwork is eye-catching, too.
Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova
My 10-year old found this book SO RELATABLE — just like she struggles with confidence and speaking up, so does the main character, Peppi. This well-done graphic novel tackles the issues of friendships and confidence, among other things. (So glad I’m not in middle school anymore.) We highly recommend this graphic novel.
Brave by Svetlana Chmakova
Just like Awkward, this takes place at Berrybrook Middle School where Jensen is the miserable target of the school’s bullies attacks. Friends, Jenny and Akilah think that they can use the newspaper to help him, but their plans without Jensen’s consent hurts their friendship. The ups and downs and challenges of Jensen’s life (that he relates to a video game) as he struggles with self-esteem will feel familiar to readers and you’ll be rooting for Jensen to stop the bullies and find his place in the world.
Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Big Bad Ironclad! by Nathan Hale
Boy readers especially like this series much more than me but it’s just personal preference –the more sarcastic tone and the violence of the books do not appeal to me. And yet, so many kids like these books that I finally decided to add them to my list. No doubt, these introduce kids to history and can motivate kids to read so those are good things. This particular story takes place during the American Civil War focusing on the ironclad steam warships with the battles, other military aspects of the war, and real people like William Cushing.
Major Impossible by Nathan Hale
After the Civil War, Major John Wesley Powell sets off on a perilous expedition through the Grand Canyon. The story begins with his life as a child and it 100% action and dialogue.
The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner
New Kid by Jerry Craft
Jordan’s parents make him go to a private school across town where he’s one of the only kids of color. Besides having the tricky business of navigating friendships, he now must deal with the two separate worlds of his neighborhood and his school along with racism and balancing academics with his art. This story feels truthful, relatable, and important.
Class Act by Jerry Craft
An excellent story about growing up, in particular, growing up black…Drew’s private school’s inclusion and diversity are a train wreck of ignorance, racism, institutionalized stereotypes, and microaggressions. With all that he faces at school, Drew’s resentment fuels his decision to ignore his rich white friend, Liam, after visiting his house — with a butler and servants! This causes a rift in his friendship with Jordan, too who is friends with them both. Just like the previous book, New Kid, Craft develops three-dimensional characters in relatable, realistic situations. Important, funny, and eye-opening.
Stepping Stones by Lucy Knisley
After her parents divorce, Jen moves to a farm with her mom and her mom’s boyfriend whose kids visit on the weekends. It’s a huge transition — she doesn’t love how bossy and whiney her stepsisters are and how annoying her mom’s boyfriend is. But she loves the chicks she takes care of and the farmer’s market. Well, she loves it until her math skills aren’t good enough to be helpful. This story gently shows the ups and downs of living with a new family in a new place.
Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani
Guts by Raina Telgemeier
Green Lantern Legacy by Minh Le, illustrated by Angie Tong
Apocalypse Taco by Nathan Hale
Hale hits it out of the park in this quirky, wild sci-fi adventure! Three theater friends take a weird trip to a taco drive-through that turns into oozing mutant creatures taking over the world. They meet a weird-looking creature of many arms and legs named Wendy who tells them that it was her roommate who started the world-ending disaster. Crazy mutant science experiments never looked so good.
This Was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews
A compelling graphic novel adventure filled with curiosity, magic, and friendship –as well as a talking bear, a map-drawing crow, and a special journey to the stars. Every year for Autumn Equinox, the town sends lanterns down the river to join the stars in the sky. Curious to know if this is true, Ben and Nathaniel, boys whose unstable friendship doesn’t bode well for cooperation, follow the lanterns on their bikes. Soon, they meet a talking fisherbear who is looking for the river, too. They meet and are imprisoned by a potions maker, make a daring escape, grow into a true friendship, and finally, learn the unexpected, magical truth about the stars. Their fantastical experience feels real and wondrous, made ever more visceral with the dark blue and red color palette. LOVED it!
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Dawud Anybwile
Bone #1: Out from Boneville by Jeff Smith
Adventure, excitement, and humor fill these captivating stories of a young bone boy named Fone and his cousins who are banned from Boneville. The illustrations capture each character’s depth so well, and the dialogue will crack you up.
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
Roller Girl shows the struggles of friendship and finding your place in the world as Astrid works hard to become a better roller derby skater, reconcile that her best friendship has ended, and develop a new one. (I recommend going to a roller derby event with your kids to help them know more about this cool sport for girls — it’s such a blast and would be helpful for reading this book, but not essential.) Well-written and relatable.
The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks with Jordie Bellaire
First in an Asian-influenced series about an occupied city, we meet two kids from different clans and backgrounds who become unlikely friends. Kaidu is a Dao and new to the Nameless City where he’s studying to be a soldier. Rat is a street girl who teaches Kaidu how to survive in the city. Together they save the city’s leader from an assassination plot. The action and characters are compelling. I can’t wait for the next book in this series, The Stone Heart.
Baba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola, illustrated by Emily Carroll
Courageous and adventurous Masha knows Baba Yaga from her grandmother’s stories. After her grandmother dies, and her father remarries, Masha decides to become Baba Yaga’s assistant. To pass Baba Yaga’s tests, Masha uses her wits and the stories from her grandmother. She thinks she will fail when she rescues three children from Baba Yaga’s cage but she passes. Excellent storytelling and illustrations kept me totally enthralled in this not-your-average-fairy tale story.
Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks
Human Body Theater: A Nonfiction Revue by Maris Wicks
This nonfiction graphic novel ROCKS! It should be required reading for students studying the human body because the information presented this way is so memorable and understandable. I love Skeleton’s narration and the awesomely cute illustrations of every body system from the smallest cell parts to the biggest organs.
Wallace the Brave by Will Henry (ages 8 – 12)
If you like the humor in Calvin and Hobbes, you must read Wallace the Brave. It’s totally hilarious. You’ll laugh your way through stories of Wallace’s life on the school bus, on the playground, playing with friends, hanging with his fisherman dad, and more. I’m smiling just writing this as I think back on Wallace’s antics and adventures. Very entertaining!
Snug Harbor Stories (Wallace the Brave) by Will Henry
Reminiscent of Calvin and Hobbes for its hilarious, snarky humor, dive into the unforgettable everyday life of Wallace and his two friends, Spud and Amelia, whose personalities will crack you up! 100% delightful humor you’ll want to read again and again. We LOVE it!
Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale & Dale Hale
One of the BEST books, not just graphic novels, EVER! This Rapunzel uses her long braids to lasso the bad guys in the wild west.
Conspiracy of Ravens by Leah Moore, John Reppion, and Sally Jane Thompson
Sanity & Tallulah by Molly Brooks
Sanity and Tallulah are two good friends who live on a space station. Sanity is a brilliant inventor — but her newest (illegal) creation, a three-headed kitten named Princess Destroyer of Worlds has escaped and is living up to her name — destroyer. The friends look for their missing kitten but instead discover a big problem that will destroy the space station only it’s not caused by the kitten. While the station is evacuated, the friends work hard to stop the duct weasels and the engine from overheating. I love the space station setting, the super-smart problem-solving main characters, and the non-stop action.
5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior by Mark Siegel, Alexis Siegel, Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller, and Boya Sun
Anti/Hero by Kate Karyus Quinn & Demitria Lunetta, illustrated by Maca Gil
Piper and Sloan are tirls who are opposite in almost every way– super-strong Piper is a superhero and genius Sloane is a villain. But when Piper catches Sloane with a stolen device, it switches them into each other’s body. Besides developing empathy about each other’s lives and struggles, it’s really tricky for them to pretend to be the other person. Not to mention, Sloane’s evil grandfather, the Bear, has kidnapped her mom when Sloane didn’t deliver the stolen device to him. The girls work together to stop the Bear and switch back into their correct bodies. It’s an AWESOME story with an empowering message of empathy and friendship.
Star Scouts by Mike Lawrence
Annie Sullivan and the Trials of Helen Keller by Joseph Lambert
I’ll admit that it took me a few chapters to embrace the cursive font used to write the diary entries that often punctuate the action and dialogue of the panels. Once I did, I could fully immerse myself in the story. And I’m so glad — because it was excellent! The book shows both Annie and Helen’s strengths and weaknesses as well as really significant character arcs. If you don’t know the story, or even if you do, read this book. You’ll be entranced with how laborious it was to teach Helen yet how Annie’s persistence paid off.
Science Comics: Bats Learning to Fly by Falynn Koch
Factual information is embedded within this story about a lost little bat who observes a tour group in the desert learning about bats from a tour guide. When the little bat gets hurt, he’s taken to a wild animal hospital where he meets other kinds of bats. At the hospital, the bats lively conversations help the little brown bat learn more about bats — what they eat, how they fly, different species, echolocation, and where they live. SO well done!
Tyrannosaurus Ralph by Nate Evans and Vince Evans
Lupin Leaps In: A Breaking Cat News Adventure by Georgia Dunn
Get the news that matters (to cats) as reported by three cats including one named Lupin. My daughter laughed her way through these funny cartoons. She stopped repeatedly to show me her favorite pages. Because when something is funny, you just want to share it! (Don’t miss the previous book, Breaking Cat News.)
Cub by Cynthia L. Copeland
Excellent! In this historical memoir, Cynthia Copeland shares about the time in her life when she got to be a “cub” reporter, when middle school was composed of predators and prey (she was prey), and she discovered her own strength. While mentor reporter helps Cynthia become interested in local and national politics and events like equal rights for women and Watergate, we also see Cynthia going “steady” with a boy and making new friends when her best friend dumped her. Wise, relatable, and thoroughly enjoyable to read, I loved this life snapshot of a girl coming into her own. (*Sensitive readers, this book includes the word cr*p.)
Secret Coders: Get with the Program by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes
What’s happening at Hopper’s new school? She and her friends discover something very amazing about the birds — they’re robotic and can be controlled by numbers. Which leads the kids to go up against the scheming, evil janitor. Readers learn some basics of how to use the programming language Logo with sequence, iteration, and selection, and must apply their knowledge to help the characters. I love the interactivity, the diverse main characters, and the progressive way the authors teach the logical thinking of programming. Very well-done!
Black Canary Ignite by Meg Cabot, illustrated by Cara McGee
Dinah Lance keeps breaking things with her voice–and getting in big trouble at school. She learns that she’s the daughter of the famous superhero, Black Canary. And that she has a power she better learn how to control. But, she thinks it’s a dumb gift and is mad that her parents kept her mom’s superhero identity a secret. Then her bandmates kick her out of the band and her mom gets kidnapped by Bonfire. How will Dinah find a solution? She’ll embrace her powers and become the new Black Canary.
Queen of the Sea by Dylan Meconis
A must-read, atmospheric historical graphic novel about the early years of Queen Elizabeth the First of England for graphic novel and history buffs ages 8 – 12. Margaret is an orphan who grows up in an island convent. She doesn’t learn that she is a secret princess until her half-sister, Eleanor, is banished to the island. Eleanor is the former queen. On the island, she’s both kind and manipulative and yet bonds with Margaret so much so that when she escapes at the end of the story, Margaret joins her. This is an interesting, marvelous story—I found the balance between the text and illustrations to be eye-pleasing and provide perfect harmony. The illustrations are simply captivating!
The Boy Who Became a Dragon: A Bruce Lee Story by Jim Di Bartolo
You don’t have to love martial arts to enjoy this engaging biography about the martial artist and movie star legend Bruce Lee. From his birth in San Francisco to life in Hong Kong during and after Japanese occupation, then his move back to the U.S., you’ll meet a troubled kid who gets into lots of trouble yet even as a child, manages to work as an actor like his father. He experiences racism for having mixed race heritage and a dad who worked for the hated Japanese so Bruce leaves his home in Hong Kong for the U.S.. There, he’s a more settled man who opens up several martial artist studios, falls in love, and becomes a movie star. Lee’s life is fascinating and the author does a great job with all the historical references.
The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook by Eleanor Davis
A group unlikely science-geek friends solve a mystery — to thwart a museum robbery; this is a fantastic (STEM) story.
Primer by Jennifer Muro and Thomas Krajewski, illustrated by Gretel Lusky
16-year-old Ashley hopes her latest foster home will be a fit — they’re funny, quirky, and really accepting. Then, Ashley finds very special lab-created body paints in her foster mom’s closet and quickly learns that when applied to her body, they give her superpowers, different powers for each color; powers like fire, flying, and strength. Meanwhile, her not-very-nice incarcerated dad is giving her trouble and the government lab and military will stop at nothing to find the missing paints. Fast-paced, exciting, and perfect for readers who love underdogs, girl power, friendship, creativity, and art!
History Comics: The Roanoke Colony: America’s First Mystery by Chris Schweizer
Learn about the Native American nations that occupied the land in and around Roanoke including their life and culture. Then learn about the politics of England and Spain that led to Europeans arriving to settle the land already occupied by Native Americans. What happened afterwards, only some of it known…We do know about the unscrupulous English colonial leaders, a pirate captain with an agenda, and the initial colonial settlement(s). But did you know that all the European colonists of Roanoke vanished? More than once? This historical comic book brings early American history to life, in an intriguing, interesting, and seemingly three-dimensional way.
Doodleville by Chad Sell
SELF CONFIDENCE / CREATIVITY
DC Super Hero Girls: Powerless by Amy Wofram, illustrated by Agnes Garbowska
The electric grid and computer cloud go out which is a huge change for our super hero girls who aren’t used life without technology. But it becomes a good learning experience with lessons of teamwork, friendship, and family. Of course, the girls also find the culprit and restore power to Metropolis.
See more 2020 DC graphic novels here.
The Drawing Lesson: A Graphic Novel That Teaches You How to Draw by Mark Crilley
Art lessons are woven within the larger story of a young boy named David who asks a young woman named Becky to give him drawing lessons. She reluctantly agrees, first asking him to draw her watch. This becomes a lesson in seeing scale, the blank spaces, and the differences between the real watch and the drawing. She declines other lessons saying she’s not a teacher but David bumps into her (even finding her house!) and she continues (reluctantly) to give him lessons on shadowing, loose sketching, negative space, proportions, and more. The Drawing Lesson is a marvelous graphic novel that both entertains and teaches.
Primates The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani & Maris Wicks
Well-written, this graphic novel captures the intersecting stories and scientific advancements of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Birute Galdikas who have spent their lives studying primates.
Around the World written and illustrated by Matt Phelan
Around the World is a graphic non-fiction novel so it reads easily while you’re learning information — are three biographies. Each of the three historical individuals traveled around the world post-Verne. Thomas Stevens bicycled around the world with an early prototype of the bicycle, the kind with one large wheel and one small. (Lots of falling.) Famous for being a daring female reporter, Nellie Bly tried traveled to beat Jules Verne’s record. Finally, Joshua Slocum sailed around the world in his old sailboat. A graphic novel is a fantastic way to read about history – this book really captured me.
Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm
Sunny’s summer vacation is spending time with her grandfather at his retirement home. (Not exactly her idea of fun.) Luckily, she meets the caretaker’s son, Buzz, and as their friendship and love of comic books develop, she also starts to deal with the real reason she’s there — her brother’s drug use. Well-written with an enjoyable narrative.
Real Friends by Shannon Hale
Catherine’s War by Julia Billet, illustrated by Claire Fauvel
Batman Overdrive by Shea Fontana, illustrated by Marcelo DiChiara
You’ll zip through this exciting Batman origin story; personally, I couldn’t put it down! Almost 16-year-old Bruce Wayne is angry at the world and doesn’t believe the story of his parents’ murder. At the same time, he also wants to restore his dad’s first car — a ’66 Crusader. Both the car restoration and his quest for truth help Bruce to realize the truth about Alfred and to make his first friends, Mateo and Selina. Bruce undergoes quite a character arc with a lot of growth in this book, from impulsive and angry to focused and collaborative.
Plants vs. Zombies by Paul Tobin and Ron Chan
I wasn’t expecting these books to be so funny in an ironic way that you don’t see in children’s books. Yes, there are zombies and kids with plants trying to kill the zombies (just like the video game) but you’ll be surprised (as I was) to read comic panels like these: a man calling the police saying, “This is a mysterious call” or a woman reading her notebook with the words “no choice” and remarking, “This leaves me no choice,” HA. If your child likes these graphic novels, there are TONS of books in the series.
Artemis Fowl The Graphic Novel by Eoin Colfer, Andrew Donkin
Also available as a full-text novel, this series is about an anti-hero. Ok, a villain, evil genius kid named Artemis. He plots to steal the fairies gold which leads him to kidnap a fairy-cop and hold her for ransom. Very entertaining.
Forget Me Nat by Maria Scrivan
Fable Comics edited by Chris Duffy
My kids and I ADORE this book as well as the series’ previously published books, Nursery Rhyme Comics and Fairy Tale Comics. We love that 17 different cartoonists created one or more of the 28 illustrated fables, sometimes retelling a traditional, often unknown fable, and sometimes retelling with their own twist. The neat thing about this diversity in cartoonists, is seeing what the artist envisions for the style and tone of the art for each story.
Twins by Varian Johnson, illustrated by Shannon Wright
This year in sixth grade, Francine becomes Fran and wants to do different things than her twin Maureen. Maureen doesn’t understand but at least she has her other friends, right? Then, Fran decides to run for school president and so does Maureen. Will their relationship ever be the same? This book takes readers inside the world of twins, middle school, and changing friendships.
Maddy Kettle The Adventure of the Thimblewitch by Eric Orchard
In this beautifully illustrated graphic novel, our heroine Maddy searches for a way to change her parents from rats back into humans. She and her friends travel by balloon to find the Thimblewitch responsible. This is a lovely, adventurous story of a brave girl and her new friends.
Little Vampire by Joann Sfar
Not scary, a very cute comic for kids about a lonely vampire who befriends a human boy.
The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents: Romeo and Juliet by Ian Lender and Zack Giallongo
This is a crazy, cool, really great, reimagined star-crossed
lovers friends –a “petter” rooster named Romeo and a “wilder” bear named Juliet who meet and become friends. Unfortunately, the wild animals despise the petting zoo animals so they must be secret friends. And, in this version, the pair of friends do not die, but go into a hibernation sleep. Simultaneously, the audience of zoo animals give us another storyline to follow particularly with two argumentative children and two hilarious vultures. (*Parents, there is the use of the double meaning of the word ass.*)
Cici’s Journal: The Adventures of a Writer-In-Training by Joris Chamblain and Aurelie Neyret (ages 8 – 12) Cici loves a good mystery. Because she’s always observing people, she’s good at finding mysteries, too. First she discovers an old man who visits the long-abandoned zoo and paints murals of the animals that used to live there. Cici rallies her friends and family to help clean up the zoo, giving it new life. As she ends that mystery and looks for another, her friends get mad at her for her dogged focus on her own interests. She finds a second mystery but her friends don’t help. Cici needs to let people in and fix the relationship problems she’s created. Entertaining with an excellent story arc and valuable life lessons.
Red’s Planet by Eddie Pittman
Gorgeous drawings share the story of a foster girl named Red who is kidnapped by a UFO and marooned on a planet with her fellow UFO alien companions where a grumpy planet guardian lives. Red finds that with her new friends, anywhere can be a home.
Zatanna and the House of Secrets by Matthew Cody, illustrated by Yoshi Yoshitani
In a day of huge events, Zatanna stands up to a bully he turns red, Zatanna’s father disappears, and an evil witch tries to take over their home, a home that turns out to be magical and sentient. Crazy day, right? Zantanna along with the witch’s son and her dad’s magical familiar pooka search for her father and how to stop the witch. It’s a fun, girl-powered book filled with adventure and magic.
Bluebeard by Metaphrog
Beginning in a small village shadowed by Bluebeard’s castle, this is a richly illustrated retelling of a classic, macabre fairy tale by Charles Perrault. When Bluebeard invites the starving villagers to his country home, he takes Eve as his wife and imprisons her with magic. The authors skillfully build suspense with every page which is realized when Eve discovers a terrifying secret room filled with Bluebeard’s dead previous wives and buckets of blood. With the help of her sister and her childhood love, Tom, Eve defeats Bluebird at long last.
Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation adapted by Ari Folman, illustrated by David Polonsky
SOOOO good! Initially, I felt skeptical that an adaptation could work but it really does. The diary bits and dialogue are well-balanced into a cohesive story that feels seamless, well-written, and insightful. Anne’s personality really shines through as she sets the historical context and describes her daily life in hiding which isn’t always very exciting but does result in a romance with the boy her age who lives there, too.
Go With the Flow by Karen Schneemann, illustrated by Lily Williams
This graphic novel about periods, women’s rights, friendship, and activism is SO good! Sasha is a new high school girl who is helped by other girls when she gets her first period— and they all become friends. But one of the friends is outraged that the bathrooms aren’t stocked with female supplies, let alone, they don’t have any free female supplies. She and the friends take action–writing a blog, creating art, and even “vandalizing” the school to make a statement. All the while, we see the ups and downs of high school life, made easier by a supportive group of girlfriends.
They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, & Steven Scott, illustrated by Harmony Becker
Both history and memoir, this is an important, no, essential story during WWII when the US government declares war on Japan and subsequently all Japanese people, forcing anyone of Japanese descent, including children, into detention camps…George’s family leave behind a two-bedroom house in Los Angeles, taking only what they can carry. They are transported first to a cramped, smelly horse stable and then to a bare-bones, overcrowded barracks surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards. George and his brother adapt well –mostly because they have amazing parents but this story also shows the reality for the adults in their new, unfair situation. It shows George’s parents’ resiliency and perseverance. When World War II ended, leaving the camps isn’t an easy, happy ending for any of the detained families. As you can imagine, they have nothing– no jobs nor bank accounts and are returning to a world of prejudice.
Almost American Girl by Robin Ha
Shadow of the Batgirl by Sarah Kuhn, illustrated by Nicole Goux
YA ages 12+
The Oracle Code by Marieke Nijkamp, illustrated by Manuel Preitano
Hacker teen Barbara Gordon is paralyzed after she tries to stop a robbery. Now she’s in a strange rehab facility to get used to her wheelchair where she realizes something is very wrong— some of the kids are disappearing. As she tries to figure out what’s happening, she learns to trust both herself and other people again. This helps her unravel the secret behind the missing kids. Excellent character development and suspenseful plot.
Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang & Sonny Lieu
A few years ago this was published to high praise. This is the superhero story about the origins of the Green Turtle, a 1940’s masked Asian-American man. I loved everything about this man who is a reluctant vigilante! His overbearing mother pushes him to become a hero and is disappointed in him, thinks him a failure. There’s a cool element of Chinese mythology (the turtle spirit) that comes into play, affecting Hank, who steps up to fight the Chinatown gangs, a hero at last.
Snow White: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan
I adore this reimagined graphic novel about Snow White set in New York City in the 1920s. Snow White’s dad is a Wall Street king, her stepmother is a Zigfield Follies star, and her seven small protectors are street kids. It’s interesting how Phelan uses this historical setting to retell a familiar fairy tale. The black and white illustrations set the tone for this dark story with a happy ending.
Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Pénélope Bagieu
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
This is dark humor at it’s best! Shape-shifter, Nimona, appoints herself the sidekick to villain, Lord Ballister Blackhart. But Nimona is way more serious about real villainy than Lord Blackhart. She kills and creates chaos whenever possible which distresses Lord Blackhart. Nimona thinks Lord Blackhart’s rules are weird and totally unnecessary. But, despite Nimona’s dark side, together they set out to prove that the heroes are not really heroic. The main characters are very well-developed and both have back-stories that make them really interesting. I love that Nimona isn’t a sexed-up heroine, she’s just a regular-looking girl. I highly recommend this book and so does my 10-year old. Also, it on the long-list for the National Book Awards.
Spill Zone by Scott Westerfeld, illustrated by Alex Puvilland
Wonder Woman Tempest Tossed by Laurie Halse Anderson, illustrated by Leila Del Duca
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