Are you new to the world of graphic novels and need a good introductory book? Or are you an avid comic reader, and want suggestions for some you have not gotten around to? How about some suggestions of our new favorites? These four will give you a glimpse into the wide world of middle-grade graphic novels — great for the newbie and the comic-lover alike.
Explorer: The Mystery Boxes, Seven Graphic Stories, edited by Kazu Kibuishi
Seven stories with completely different plots and characters with one thing in common: a box. While one character deals with the nuisance of a mischievous clay figure she found in a box, another character gets sucked into a box only to learn about the apocalyptic future that awaits human civilization. An excellent choice for first-time graphic novel readers, Explorer: The Mystery Boxes will give readers a chance to read various comic book styles from quality graphic novel artists. Readers have a chance to enjoy a Raina Telgemeier comic, with her friendly depictions of middle school life, or one from Kazu Kibuishi, with his more serious depictions of a science fiction storyline. These short stories will leave viewers giggling, clenching their teeth, and pondering life.
Akissi by Marguerite Abouet
Written by Ivory Coast-born author, Marguerite Abouet, Akissi is a raw graphic novel about young Akissi and the hysterical situations she gets into in her urban West African neighborhood. Akissi’s mischief will make reader’s stomachs curl from laughter, discomfort and utterly gross moments! Seven short stories form the character of the bold and brash Akissi, who gets into a number of pickles, from helping her brother charge local kids for TV time and losing her adopted monkey to hungry neighbors, to chasing her brother with a tapeworm that came out of her nose. Needless to say, this graphic novel does not beat around the bush. Readers will be hooked by Akissi’s hilarious mishaps and will relate to the universal themes of family imperfection, sibling rivalry and making mistakes to learn. A reflection of resilience and reality, Akissi refreshingly gives insight into everyday hiccups that ordinary families live through in under privileged countries.
Hereville: How Mirka Got her Sword, by Barry Deutsch
In Hereville, an orthodox Jewish community, feisty eleven-year-old Mirka marches to the beat of her own drum, as she makes it clear that she hates knitting and likes to provoke her argumentative but golden-hearted stepmother. But then, Mirka gets an idea into her head: she wants to slay dragons! Of course everyone thinks this is ridiculous, and after confronting and then rescuing an angry talking pig, Mirka meets a machashaifeh, or witch, who gives her directions to a sword. A troll guards the sword, and Mirka must fight with a skill she is not particularly fond of! This comical graphic novel does an excellent job of weaving Orthodox Jewish traditions into this funny modern story of a spunky girl with big and quirky dreams. The characters sometimes use Yiddish words, which are translated simply at the bottom of the page. Readers will laugh with and cheer on Mirka, and may be more willing to try the arduous task of knitting than they thought. Want to know what happens next? Look for the sequel: How Mirka Met a Meteorite.
Mouse, Bird, Snake, Wolf, by David Almond
Harry, Sue and Little Ben live in a world similar to ours. The gods above made flowers, mountains, babies, animals, and many more marvelous creations, but there are many gaps and holes. Because the gods have become gluttonous and lazy, Little Ben gets the idea to make something himself. He gathers sticks and leaves from the earth and believes… believes… and believes… until the mouse squeaks to life! Now it’s Sue’s turn and then Harry’s, and their imaginations bring forth more quirky creatures. But when Sue and Harry get carried away, they create a howling and ravenous creature and must Little Ben finds the courage to un-make it. But can you un-make an object of imagination forever? This graphic novel is not your typical comic book, and will suit readers who love art and more serious material. This is a terrific read for lovers of Shaun Tan‘s quirky and beautiful books, The Arrival and The Bird King: An Artist’s Notebook.