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Anita's Picks: Children Love Graphic Novels!

by Anita Silvey
August 12, 2013
The last five years in children’s books could be called the age of the graphic novel. Young readers have responded with joy and enthusiasm to this format. Whether it’s the best-selling Diary of a Wimpy Kid series or some of the books listed below, they find the combination of text, art, and story irresistible.

To kick off We Love Graphic Novels Week, here are some of the best picks from the Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac.

Grades 1–3

CAMP BABYMOUSE (Random House, 2007) by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
“If you haven’t yet met this incredibly popular heroine, CAMP BABYMOUSE will make you a convert. I myself am just grateful that no one is sending me to any sleepaway camp this year, but if they were, I’d definitely bring Babymouse—not to mention scores of cupcakes—with me.”

BAD KITTY GETS A BATH (Roaring Brook Press, 2008) by Nick Bruel
“Children love the mayhem created by Bad Kitty. Of course, the personality of this character is basically that of a little kid. Laugh-out-loud funny, with energetic drawings, the book brings demands for many readings.”

THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS (Scholastic, 1997) by Dav Pilkey
The Captain Underpants series have sold more than forty million copies, they have made children who think they hate books become readers, and they have made the author a household name…. [THE ADVENTURES OF CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS] contains so much silly, even gross, humor and action-filled drawings that young readers finish an entire book without meaning to.”

LUNCH LADY AND THE CYBORG SUBSTITUTE (Knopf, 2009) by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
“…how well do you really know the lunch lady? Do you know what she does when she leaves the school? In our book of the day, an inquiring group of kids ask these questions and discover some amazing answers. For in their school, the lunch lady is someone to be feared. She serves both lunch—and justice—in equal measure.”

Grades 4–6

LITTLE WHITE DUCK (Graphic Universe, 2012) by Na Liu
“When books for American children focus on other parts of the world, they tend to be in line with accepted American political thinking. But told as a series of short stories, LITTLE WHITE DUCK stands apart from that trend presenting a positive portrait of Maoist China.”

SMILE (GRAPHIX, 2010) by Raina Telgemeier
“Some read SMILE as a memoir; others simply find themselves fascinated by a story that rings so true to their own experiences…. In the end, whether you are an adult or child, after finishing this book you will find yourself smiling along with the protagonist.”

THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN: THE BLUE LOTUS (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 1984) by Hergé
The brave and resourceful snub-nosed reporter Tintin and his fox terrier Snowy [are] popular with both adults and children around the world. In twenty-four books, told completely as comic strips, Tintin and Snowy travel to various exotic places, including America, where he takes on the Chicago mobster Al Capone….Intelligent, kindhearted, and fearless, Tintin has beguiled young readers around the world.”

Grades 5–8

THE ODYSSEY (Candlewick Press, 2010) by Gareth Hinds
“Various versions of THE ODYSSEY have been created over the years, to make this story accessible to younger readers. In 2010 Gareth Hinds rendered an exciting version of this great story in a graphic novel format. … Through alternating text blocks that provide the story line with frequent illustration sequences relaying the action, Hinds presents a great hero saga. Now Odysseus can stand beside Spider-Man and all the other action figures.”

LOST & FOUND (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2011) by Shaun Tan
“A great book for discussion for children ages 11–14, LOST & FOUND was adapted for an animated short film that won Tan an Oscar. With imagery that might well have come from the fevered imagination of Hieronymus Bosch, Tan creates picture books with philosophical, historical, or emotional issues at their core. Each story causes the reader to pause, think about the issues raised, and then go back and pore over the pictures because so much detail has been incorporated in the art.”

THE ARRIVAL (Levine, 2007) by Shaun Tan
“In this graphic novel readers follow the story, presented without words, of a lone immigrant, who leaves his wife, daughter, and home, and travels by steamship to a new land. Huddled together with other passengers, he eventually sees his destination, but everything looks bizarre. Even the pets look like they might best be avoided. The language used on buildings and signs perplexes both the immigrant and the reader… Since the reader is always viewing the scene from the immigrant’s eyes, he or she experiences this strange new land just as the man does.”

With a unique career in children's books, Anita Silvey has served both as the editor of THE HORN BOOK MAGAZINE and publisher of a major children's book imprint. She is the author of several books, including HENRY KNOX: BOOKSELLER, SOLDIER, PATRIOT and I'LL PASS FOR YOUR COMRADE: WOMEN SOLDIERS IN THE CIVIL WAR. Her latest project, THE CHILDREN'S BOOK-A-DAY ALMANAC (Roaring Brook Press, 2012), began as an interactive website. The entries serve as a "daily love letter to a book or author," with each one offering a glimpse into the story behind the story.

© 2013 Anita Silvey. Please do not reproduce in any form, electronic or otherwise.
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