Sequential art (also known as comics or graphic novels) are hugely popular with fans of all ages, including the twelve and under set. This week we look at graphic novels written and drawn for the emerging comics fan.
Owly, by Andy Runton. Owly and his forest friends have adventures and learn lessons about teamwork, friendship, and loyalty. Owly is a sweet, kind but often lonely little owl, a perfect companion for the shy yet adventurous reader. Owly first appeared in 2004 and is still going strong. He has even expanded into the realm of picture books and merchandising (the Owly hat is my favorite). The Owly series has earned Runton multiple awards in the comics and graphic novel community, including the Howard E. Day Memorial Prize, the Harvey Award, two Ignatz Awards, and the 2006 Eisner Award for “Best Publication for a Younger Audience”. He lives in the greater Atlanta area, where he works full-time on Owly comics, books, and graphic novels.
Visit Owly online at: www.AndyRunton.com
Babymouse, by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm. Meet Babymouse—Her dreams are big! Her imagination is wild! Her whiskers are ALWAYS a mess! In her mind, she’s Queen of the World! In real life…she’s not even Queen of the lunch table! This award-winning graphic novel is perfect for fans of the Junie B. Jones series and the Dork Diaries, and for lovers of the Olivia picture book series. Babymouse began in 2005 and is currently up to volume 20. NYT bestselling, three-time Newbery Honor winning author Jennifer Holm teams up with Matthew Holm to bring you a fully illustrated graphic novel series packed with humor and kid appeal.
Visit Babymouse online at http://www.randomhouse.com/kids/babymouse/
DC Superhero Girls, by Various Authors. This groundbreaking new middle-grade series follows DC Comics’ most iconic female Super Heroes and Super-Villains . . . as high schoolers. At Super Hero High, the galaxy’s most powerful teens nurture their powers and master the fundamentals of what it means to be a hero. We meet Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Bat Girl, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, to begin with. There should be no surprise to discover there is also a line of DC Superhero Girls dolls available as well; even less surprise that I own one (Poison Ivy, and she is a beautiful doll). DC also offers up DC Secret Heroes Society: Study Hall of Justice by Derek Fridolfs and Dustin Nguyen – where we meet a young Bruce Wayne, Clark Kent and Diana Prince, who have formed their own young detective club.
Last Kids on Earth, by Max Brallier and Douglas Holgate. What list would be complete without some young zombie fun! The series has been called “Diary of a Wimpy Kid meets The Walking Dead in this very funny post-apocalyptic graphic novel for middle-grade readers.” The back of the book says it best: Ever since the monster apocalypse hit town, average thirteen-year-old Jack Sullivan has been living in his tree house, which he’s armed to the teeth with catapults and a moat, not to mention video games and an endless supply of Oreos and Mountain Dew scavenged from abandoned stores. But Jack alone is no match for the hordes of Zombies and Winged Wretches and Vine Thingies, and especially not for the eerily intelligent monster known only as Blarg. So Jack builds a team: his dorky best friend, Quint; the reformed middle school bully, Dirk; Jack’s loyal pet monster, Rover; and Jack’s crush, June. With their help, Jack is going to slay Blarg, achieve the ultimate Feat of Apocalyptic Success, and be average no longer! This is one of those series you want to just yank out of a kid’s hands and read for yourself.
There are many more, and for interested teachers, librarians and parents there is a wonderful reference book by author and librarian David Serchay, The Librarian’s Guide to Graphic Novels for Children and Tweens. There have been dozens of new titles released since the publication of this book (2008), but Serchay is a dedicated librarian, committed to earning graphic novels their right to be taken seriously as literature with a legitimate place on library, school, and child’s bookshelf.
I will leave you with one last title, because. You must. Galactic Hot Dogs #1: Cosmoe’s Weiner Getaway by Max Brallier and Rachel Maguire. Meet Cosmoe, the Earth-Boy. He’s captain of the Neon Weiner, the finest flying food truck in the galaxy. Along with his bud, Big Humphree, he spends his days cruising the cosmos and staying crazy busy. Emphasis on the crazy. If you have young ones who have read their Captain Underpants books until they’re tattle-tale gray, this is just the next big thing for them.