Personally, we always start the summer off with good intentions and high hopes. I generally take my kids to the book store to get them excited to read. With close monitoring and a lot of reminding, my kids generally make it halfway to their summer reading goal. It’s that last month of summer where the reading seems to slow to a stop. Perhaps graphic novels will help this year!
To kick off summer reading, I’m giving away 3 cartoon humor books from Andrews McMeel Publishing! One lucky winner will win all three. To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter at the bottom. I hope this gets your kids reading this summer!
How about you? How do you get your kids reading during the summer? Thanks for sharing your tips!
New Great Graphic Novels for Kids
New Kid by Jerry Craft
I had the great pleasure of meeting Jerry Craft at his first book event at Belmont Books and he graciously agreed to let me tape it. I have it here on my YouTube channel. New Kid is the story of Jordan Banks, an African American regular kid, who switches schools to attend a fancy private school. His parents want him to understand the white world as a stepping stone for success in the corporate world. Jerry Craft does a great job contrasting the different experiences of other kids of color, in particular, two black boys from opposite ends of the financial spectrum. Jerry Craft cleverly exposes the everyday racist microaggressions that kids of color experience at school both from their peers as well as from well-meaning teachers. I wish that Jerry would have developed Ruby Wu more. She comes across as the token Asian sidekick but hopefully, it will happen in a future book since this is meant to be a series. In all other aspects, New Kid is spot on from the color palette to the drawings. Jerry Craft did his homework well; this is Smile by Raina Telgemeir from an African American point of view. The same humor is there as well as the small teachable moments. While this book is targeted for middle grade, it has much wider age appeal. It can also be used in a high school setting to discuss microaggressions, and my son, at age 14 would really enjoy this too. [graphic novel, ages 8 and up]
Guts by Raina Telgemeier
Raina Telgemeier fans will be excited that her newest graphic novel is out September 17, 2019. This one is not just about stomach trouble but about anxiety, and how that can manifest physically. In this case, it is as digestive ailments. Of course, Raina packages this timely topic about mental health and wellness through her relationships at school. Food anxieties are real, including vomit phobias and Raina gets mental health counseling to overcome it. Through therapy, Raina confronts her fears and stresses and slowly makes progress to overcome them. This is a realistic, engaging, and sympathetic portrayal of food anxiety in middle school where middle school and puberty wreak havoc. It’s hard to choose, but this might be my favorite Raina Telgemeier graphic novel so far! [graphic novel, ages 8 and up]
Pilu of the Woods by Mai K. Nguyen
Willow has a lot of emotions locked inside after her mother’s death that sometimes come out in an explosion of anger. Spending time in the woods helps Willow feel better. Her father, a horticulture professor, taught her all about plants and fungi. When she meets a tree spirit Pilu who has also left home in anger, Willow helps her return. Together, they tame the little monsters of born of anger and guilt. [graphic novel, ages 8 and up]
I Am Hermes! Mischief-Making Messenger of the Gods by Mordicai Gerstein
This is fun because the story of Hermes is told in a comic book graphic novel format with short chapters telling individual stories of Hermes’ escapades including little known stories such as how he married Penelopeta and fathered Pan with her. The drawings are loose and “sketchbook-like” with an attractive color scheme. Kids who like Percy Jackson will connect with this. Pair it also with George O’Connor’s Olympians graphic novel series. [graphic novel, ages 8 and up]
5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior series by Mark Siegel, Alexis Siegel, Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller, and Boya Sun
There are shades of Amulet in this epic fantasy adventure graphic novels series that includes a strong girl character, special powers, an android character, and a space-age world that contains five planets. There’s also a timely environmental climate change message where good versus bad is not neatly laid out. I made the mistake of reading The Cobalt Prince first which made the plot harder to follow. It makes much more sense to read them in order. What makes this series less appealing than Amulet is the color palette which is very pastel and too muted at times which takes away from the drama of the action-packed plot. I also don’t like how the main characters are drawn. Both Oona Lee and An Tzu have round faces that look too similar to each other. They come across as too baby-faced which is at odds with their heroic actions. The adult characters, however, are drawn with stronger features and a less muted color palette.
Just as Jerry Craft really scrutinized and imitated the look and feel of Raina Telgemeir’s graphic novels, this series would have benefited from doing the same to Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet series. In a graphic novel, the story is what differentiates it from other authors and illustrators but the reader can subconsciously process the type of story from the look and feel of established and popular series. Once the reader starts reading 5 Worlds, the magic begins, but I’m concerned that the cover doesn’t convey an epic space-age adventure similar to Amulet. This feels like it’s geared towards girls which is a shame. [graphic novel series, ages 8 and up]
Click by Kayla Miller, Camp by Kayla Miller
From the Mixed Up Files of Middle Grade Authors has a great interview with Kayla Miller:
“Mixed-Up Files: Your first graphic novel was CLICK. Can you talk about where the inspiration for that came from?
Kayla: The idea for setting a book at a school variety show came from my agent (then editor) Elizabeth, whose daughter had just participated in one. It’s partially inspired by her experience of how being asked to break into groups for a project can strain friendships, something I can definitely remember being an issue when I was a kid, and partially inspired by my own experience hosting my high school talent show. My co-host and I had come up with a series of skits and gags to do between the other students’ acts that we considered to be Vaudevillian or like the banter from the Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour… but were mainly just very silly.” [graphic novel, ages 10 and up]
Mixed-Up Files: Can you suggest a few of your favorite graphic novels that our middle-grade readers might want to check out?
Kayla: If you like CAMP, I’d check out Vera Brosgol’s BE PREPARED. It’s also about a summer camp, but a very different kind of camp than the one Olive and Willow go to– it’s actually kind of like the camps I went to as a kid. I also love Kristen Gudsnuk’s MAKING FRIENDS and Brenna Thummler’s SHEETS!
Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol
This semi-autobiographical graphic novel chronicles Vera’s childhood as she seeks to fit in and make friends as a socially awkward kid. We don’t really understand why she’s having trouble socially. Vera thinks her failed slumber party is because her family is too Russian and poor but it’s more likely something else since her younger brother has no issues socially. Vera’s friends all go to sleepaway camp, a luxury denied her because her single mother is in college getting her accounting degree. When she discovers that her Russian Orthodox church has a church camp and gives financial aid, she persuades her mother to send her and her brother. Vera struggles socially at Russian camp also, but it’s because of the age differences between herself and the mostly much older girls. Vera uses her artistic skills to win over her roommates but that backfires. Vera is determined to make her camping experience successful and we root for her as she makes her first friend and becomes her camp’s heroine by beating the boys at Capture The Flag. I hope that Vera’s adventures continue with a sequel as she and her family head to England for her mother’s new job.
Graphic novels have never been honored with a Newbery but I hope this year is different. Fans of Smile, Drama, and Roller Girl will enjoy this tween girl journey of finding yourself and fitting in. [graphic novel, ages 8 and up]
Unicorn Bowling: Another Phoebe and Her Unicorn Adventure by Dana Simpson
I’ve read most of this series and I would describe it as a female-driven Calvin and Hobbs. Phoebe’s unicorn, like Hobbs, is invisible to most people except her parents, and, unlike Hobbs, is less philosophical and more egotistical. In this graphic novel, Phoebe interacts more with her frenemy Dakota who bullies her about everything including the way she dresses and her unicorn. It turns out that Phoebe used to be friends with Dakota and they also used to play unicorns together. This is a popular series and this latest installment centered around frenemies and girl bullies make this newest one the strongest one for me yet. [graphic novel, ages 8 and up]
Snug Harbor Stories by Will Henry
This is one of my favorite new graphic novel series. I’d describe it as Big Nate + Calvin and Hobbs set in a small New England fishing village. Doesn’t that sound charming and fun? It is! [graphic novel, ages 8 and up]
Big Nate: Hug It Out by Lincoln Peirce
This has been a consistent series that gets my son reading over a long period of years. When he was in elementary school, Big Nate got him reading for fun once he was reading independently. In middle school, he appreciated Big Nate’s humor. Now, as a freshman in high school when kids might stop reading for pleasure, this is one of very few books that will catch my son’s interest. Big Nate is the hardest working graphic novel series in the business and really gives you your money’s worth! [graphic novel series, ages 8 and up]
Laser Moose and Rabbit Boy: Time Trout by Doug Savage
This is a wacky time travel adventure when Laser Moose and Rabbit Boy encounter a trout who has swallowed a time travel device from a human from the future. They all go back and forward in time, confronting danger from enemies. This is a great way to get kids interested in the quantum physics of time travel which is explained in simple language in the back matter! [graphic novel, ages 8 and up]
Onibi: Diary of a Yokai Ghost Hunter by Atelier Sento
I review 5 graphic novels in my Book Talk video here.
I would describe as Pokemon game + Ghostbusters movie My 13-year-old son rates 3/5. [graphic novel, ages 8 and up]
Smell My Foot! by Cece Bell
It’s nice to see graphic novels for the very youngest readers and they will not be disappointed with this humorous story of two friends, Chick and Brain. The message is equally about manners and friendship as Chick and his unwitting friend Brain meet a new friend Spot. Brain is constantly offering others to smell his foot, and the result of that sniffing drives the plot in hilarious and unexpected ways. Available September 3, 2019. [graphic novel, ages 4 and up]
Bird and Squirrel All Tangled Up by James Burks
Ms. Yingling Reads has a great review:
“The story is a good one, especially for parents who want to protect their children from imagined harm. Squirrel’s nightmares always showcase Birdie being lost or having run away, even though he is always by Squirrel’s side. Bird is a nice foil and helps Squirrel give Birdie some much-needed space.” [graphic novel, ages 7 and up]
Lucy Speak Out! (A Peanuts Collection) by Schultz
I think that Peanuts has more adult than kid appeal but there was one section of this book that really stood out to me. Starting on page 158, Schultz is prescient to introduce sentiments of Title IX. Here Lucy and her friends, but most notably Peppermint Patty, lead a discussion about equity in women’s and girls’ sports. Lucy is an ally while Marcie shows the other side for female apathy. [cartoon humor book, ages 9 and up]
Lupin Leaps In: A Breaking Cat Adventure by Georgia Dunn
I do think that graphic novels were skewing to a boy audience so it’s nice to see new books with girls in mind. This one has the definite feel of a girl-focused audience: three house cats with microphones provide breaking news on their own escapades as well as observations of their humans. While I don’t love the watercolor art work which isn’t crisp enough for me, it does make this book appeal to a younger audience than is suggested by the publisher. I’d hand this to girls in first or second grade that read well beyond their grade level. [graphic novel, ages 6 and up]
The Mutts Summer Diaries by Patrick McDonnell
This is kind of a Peanuts-like series but with a cat and dog character, though truth be told, the animals are ambiguous as to type. I don’t always get the humor or find the panels funny in the same way the Peanuts are not hilarious to me. I guess I am more of a Calvin and Hobbs type of cartoon fan. Still, this would be a pleasant summer read for a kid who likes cartoons. [cartoon humor book, ages 7 and up]
Spartan & The Green Egg: The Poachers of Tiger Mountain by Nabila Khashoggi, illustrated by Manuel Cadag
This is another example of a graphic novel with a great storyline that includes endangered animal rescue but doesn’t get the look and feel right. The illustrations, font, and layout are all wrong, making this graphic novel look like bad computer-generated art. It’s a shame because the story would appeal to kids interested in endangered animals. [graphic novel, ages 8 and up]
I found a few more graphic novels that I still need to read:
Little Robot by Ben Hatke
Publisher’s description: “When a little girl finds an adorable robot in the woods, she presses a button and accidentally activates him for the first time. Now, she finally has a friend. But the big, bad robots are coming to collect the little guy for nefarious purposes, and it’s all up to a five-year-old armed only with a wrench and a fierce loyalty to her mechanical friend to save the day!” [graphic novel, ages 6 and up
The Breakaways: Bad at Soccer. Okay at Friends by Cathy G. Johnson
Publisher description: “Quiet, sensitive Faith starts middle school already worrying about how she will fit in. To her surprise, Amanda, a popular eighth grader, convinces her to join the school soccer team, the Bloodhounds. Having never played soccer in her life, Faith ends up on the C team, a ragtag group that’s way better at drama than at teamwork. Although they are awful at soccer, Faith and her teammates soon form a bond both on and off the soccer field that challenges their notions of loyalty, identity, friendship, and unity.” [graphic novel, ages 8 and up]
The Hidden Witch by Molly Knox Ostertag
Publisher’s description: “Aster and his family are adjusting to his unconventional talent for witchery; unlike the other boys in his family, he isn’t a shapeshifter. He’s taking classes with his grandmother and helping to keep an eye on his great-uncle whose corrupted magic wreaked havoc on the family.
Meanwhile, Aster’s friend from the non-magical part of town, Charlie, is having problems of her own — a curse has tried to attach itself to her. She runs to Aster and escapes it, but now the friends must find the source of the curse before more people — normal and magical alike — get hurt.” [graphic novel, ages 8 and up]
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur Vol. 2: Cosmic Cooties by Amy Reeder et all
Publisher’s description: “She’s been so busy worrying about the Terrigen Cloud that would turn her Inhuman, Luna Lafayette might instead fall prey to…Cosmic Cooties?! Because when a new boy moves to town from far, far away, he’s oddly interested in her. Meanwhile, the most wanted T-Rex in NYC is running out of places to lie low – a problem that won’t get any easier when our darling duo undergo a body swap! It’s a big change up that will see Luna spending a freaky Friday (or whatever day it happens to be) as Devil Dinosaur, and vice versa! Will Luna evade capture? Will DD scrape a passing grade on his test? And who exactly is Moon Girl’s new 9-year-old archnemesis, Kid Kree? As his plans unfold, there’ll be major revelations about Luna’s abilities!” [graphic novel, ages 8 and up]
Sanity & Tallulah by Molly Brooks
Publisher’s description: “Sanity Jones and Tallulah Vega are best friends on Wilnick, the dilapidated space station they call home at the end of the galaxy. So naturally, when gifted scientist Sanity uses her lab skills and energy allowance to create a definitely-illegal-but-impossibly-cute three-headed kitten, she has to show Tallulah. But Princess, Sparkle, Destroyer of Worlds is a bit of a handful, and it isn’t long before the kitten escapes to wreak havoc on the space station. The girls will have to turn Wilnick upside down to find her, but not before causing the whole place to evacuate! Can they save their home before it’s too late?” [graphic novel, ages 9 and up]
Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova
Publisher’s description: “Cardinal rule #1 for surviving school: Don’t get noticed by the mean kids.
Cardinal rule #2 for surviving school: Seek out groups with similar interests and join them.
On her first day at her new school, Penelope–Peppi–Torres reminds herself of these basics. But when she trips into a quiet boy in the hall, Jaime Thompson, she’s already broken the first rule, and the mean kids start calling her the “nerder girlfriend.” How does she handle this crisis? By shoving poor Jaime and running away!
Falling back on rule two and surrounding herself with new friends in the art club, Peppi still can’t help feeling ashamed about the way she treated Jaime. Things are already awkward enough between the two, but to make matters worse, he’s a member of her own club’s archrivals–the science club! And when the two clubs go to war, Peppi realizes that sometimes you have to break the rules to survive middle school!” [graphic novel, ages 9 and up]
Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy: A Graphic Novel: A Modern Retelling of Little Women by Rey Terciero, illustrated by Bre Indigo
This is an anthology featuring contributions from writers and artists from the comic book industry like Gail Simone, Greg Pak, Reginald Hudlin, Denys Cowan, Tony Daniel, Ken Lashley, Bill Sienkiewicz, Yanick Paquette, Gabby Rivera, Will Rosado, Jorge Jimenez, Mike Allred, Chris Sotomayor, to Puerto Rican and Latinx celebrities like Rosario Dawson, Ruben Blades, Javier Munoz, Sonia Manzano and over 100 more. Proceeds will go towards the continued hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico. [graphic novel, ages ?? I’m guessing 12 and up]
As The Crow Flies by Melanie Gillman
Publisher description: “Charlie Lamonte is thirteen years old, queer, black, and questioning what was once a firm belief in God. So naturally, she’s spending a week of her summer vacation stuck at an all-white Christian youth backpacking camp. As the journey wears on and the rhetoric wears thin, she can’t help but poke holes in the pious obliviousness of this storied sanctuary with little regard for people like herself . . . or her fellow camper, Sydney.” [graphic novel, ages 12 and up]
Dear Justice League by Michael Northrop and Gustavo Duarte
Review from Ms. Yingling Reads:
“Young readers who are fans of DC comics, or adults who WANT young readers to be fans, will find this an excellent way to introduce the canon of characters in the Justice League and entice readers to look into the comic books. This is a must have for readers who enjoyed Yee’s DC Super Hero Girls Adventure Collection, Fridolfs and Nguyen’s DC Comics: Secret Hero Society and Pearson and Gonzalez’s Super Sons: The Polarshield Project.” [graphic novel, ages 7 and up]
Owl’s Outstanding Doughnuts by Robin Yardi
After Mattie Waters loses her mother, she goes to live with her aunt, the owner of a roadside donut shop in Big Sur, California. When an owl taps on Mattie’s window one night, Mattie looks out to see something suspicious taking place nearby. With help from her friends and from Alfred, a stuffy but good-hearted owl, she’ll set out to find the culprits, facing fears that have followed her since her mother’s death. description from publisher [graphic novel, ages 8 and up]
3 cartoon humor books from Andrews McMeel Publishing Giveaway!
I’m giving away 3 cartoon humor books from Andrews McMeel Publishing! One lucky winner will win all three. To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter below.
p.s. More of my graphic novel book lists:
ABCs of Graphic Novels (A-E)/Preschool
ABCs of Graphic Novels (F-J)
ABCs of Graphic Novels (K-O)
ABCs of Graphic Novels (P-T)
ABCs of Graphic Novels (U-Z), Young Adult
p.p.s. Illustrated middle grade
Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai
Great review by DEBtastic Reads:
“I’ve been anticipating this book ever since it came up on my radar a few months ago – I’ve been following the author/illustrator’s social media feeds. This illustrated middle grade book looks to be both humorous and poignant.”
From the publisher:
Sometimes life isn’t a piece of cake . . .
When Jingwen moves to a new country, he feels like he’s landed on Mars. School is torture, making friends is impossible since he doesn’t speak English, and he’s often stuck looking after his (extremely irritating) little brother, Yanghao.
To distract himself from the loneliness, Jingwen daydreams about making all the cakes on the menu of Pie in the Sky, the bakery his father had planned to open before he unexpectedly passed away. The only problem is his mother has laid down one major rule: the brothers are not to use the oven while she’s at work. As Jingwen and Yanghao bake elaborate cakes, they’ll have to cook up elaborate excuses to keep the cake making a secret from Mama.
In her hilarious, moving middle-grade debut, Remy Lai delivers a scrumptious combination of vibrant graphic art and pitch-perfect writing that will appeal to fans of Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham’s Real Friends, Kelly Yang’s Front Desk, and Jerry Craft’s New Kid. [graphic novel, ages 8 and up]
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.