Parenting is a Journey
An Adventure of Discovery Not Only of our Children But of Ourselves as Well
Graphic novels are a huge hit, but did you realize that they bolster students’ confidence and reading skills? Kids enjoy reading them, and this makes them want to read more. They also build a sense of story structure, character development and vocabulary. Here’s a selection of new graphic novels to share with kids this fall.
“The Great Art Caper,” by Victoria Jamieson (Henry Holt/Macmillan; 64 pp.; $7.99; ages 5-9). The second-graders’ classroom pet, George Washington the hamster, continues his adventures with friends Barry the bunny and Sunflower the guinea pig, this time saving the students’ art show from sabotage by the mischievous mouse Harriet. Young readers new to graphic novels will love imagining the secret life of their classroom pets.
“Older Than Dirt: A Wild but True Story of Earth,” by Don Brown and Dr. Mike Perfit (HMH; 112 pp.; $18.99; ages 9-14). This engaging nonfiction graphic novel explains a wide range of earth science, including the Big Bang, the formation of landmasses and the development of different life forms, all the way to modern climate change. The illustrations and brief text make the complex issues accessible, and the groundhog’s banter with her worm friend adds essential comic relief.
“One Trick Pony,” by Nathan Hale (Abrams; 128 pp.; $14.95; ages 8-12). Hostile aliens have devastated Earth in search of technology, but Strata and her friends stumble upon a cache of robots, including a super robot pony. Determined to protect her family and friends from the wrath of the alien Pipers, Strata leads the aliens on a wild chase in this fast-paced sci-fi adventure.
“Real Friends,” by Shannon Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham (First Second; 224 pp.; $12.99; ages 8-12). In this graphic novel memoir, Shannon Hale focuses on the trouble she had figuring out friendship issues throughout elementary school. The format is perfect for this audience — blending images, short text and visual storytelling to help young readers see just how hard friendship issues really are and understand some ways through them.
“The Sand Warrior,” by Mark Siegel and Alexis Siegel, illustrated by Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller and Boya Sun (Random House; 256 pp.; $12.99; ages 10-13). This complex fantasy launches a new series, 5 Worlds, as young sand dancer Oona Lee finds the courage, wisdom and skills to save her planet and friends from destruction. This epic quest will appeal to fantasy lovers who will want to read it carefully, gleaning many clues from the interweaving storylines. Outstanding visual feel to the many worlds, with characters of many sizes, shapes, and skin tones.
“Star Scouts,” by Mike Lawrence (First Second; 192 pp.; $14.99; ages 8-12). Avani Patel is having trouble in her new school, but life becomes much more interesting when she’s abducted by a cheerful blue alien named Mabel. Avani joins Mabel’s group of friends in their Star Scouts troop as they earn badges in teleporting, jetpack racing and “xenoscatology” (yep, identifying alien poops). Kids will love the adventure, humor and especially Avani’s spunky character, as she discovers that she doesn’t have to fit in to find friends.
“Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt,” by Ben Clanton (Tundra; 64 pp.; $7.99; ages 6-10). This is a terrific graphic novel for beginning readers, with cheerful Narwhal who’s determined to be a superhero. Narwhal’s superpower turns out to being a true friend, especially when his best friend Jelly is nervous at every turn. Adorable and charming, perfect for kids who’ve moved beyond Elephant & Piggie.
“Swing It, Sunny,” by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (Graphix/Scholastic; 224 pp.; $12.99; ages 9-12). The book is set in the 1976-77 school year, and Sunny is starting middle school after spending a summer with Gramps (in “Sunny Side Up”). When her big brother Dale is sent to military boarding school after getting into trouble with drugs, Sunny worries about him. This poignant narrative authentically captures a young tween’s family struggles and developing friendships.
Mary Ann Scheuer is a teacher librarian for the Berkeley Unified School District. Find more books Mary Ann recommends sharing with children at her blog, Great Kid Books, http://greatkidbooks.blogspot.com.