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Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2021) Nominees Round Up, September 24 Edition

Click here to see all of the current Great Graphic Novels nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.

Suncatcher by Jose Pimienta 
Random House Graphic / Penguin Random House
Publication Date: May 19, 2020 
ISBN: 9780593124826 

Beatriz has always loved music and starts a band when she is in high school. Her connection to music comes from her grandfather who died eight years earlier. She discovers that her grandfather’s soul is trapped in his old guitar and he can only be freed if she plays the perfect song—a song of his that he never wrote down. Beatriz is consumed by music in an effort to free her grandfather and sacrifices friendships, the band, and her own wellbeing in the process. 

Beatriz lives in Mexico just like the author and illustrator Jose Pimienta. This #OwnVoices story takes on magical realism—a mainstay in Latin-American literature—in the main plot and may be many teen readers’ first exposure to the genre. Pimienta does a nice job of weaving the elements of magical realism with Beatriz’s typical teenage behaviors. Many teenagers will be able to see themselves in Beatriz’s actions and reactions and will be drawn to the subplot about being in a band. The art is simply drawn but employs a limited yet variable color palette that uses patterns and shading to add life to the page. 

Suggest this to readers who have enjoyed other graphic novels such as The Dark Matter of Mona Starr by Laura Lee Gulledge, My Riot by Rick Spears, and Witchlight by Jessi Zabarsky. Fans of Suncatcher might also enjoy the YA novels Black Girl Unlimited by Echo Brown and The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante. 

—Christine Pyles

Witches of Brooklyn by Sophie Escabasse
Random House Graphic / Penguin Random House
Publication Date: September 1, 2020
ISBN: 9780593125281 

Eleven-year-old Effie is sent to live with her aunt and her partner in Brooklyn after the death of her mother. Though Effie didn’t know her aunts Selimine and Carlota before and they are more grandma-aged than mom-aged, the three quickly get along. Selimine and Carlota claim to be acupuncturists, but when a pop star shows up in the middle of the night looking for a miracle, Effie learns that they are actually witches—and she might be one too! 

The characters of Witches of Brooklyn jump off the page from the beginning, from crabby Selimine and gentle Carlota to Effie’s school friends. Escabasse’s artwork is cute and expressive. The aunts’ house is wonderfully imagined down to the maps of the three floors and the secret witchy basement. The depictions of middle school and Effie coming into her powers is gentle but not without drama. This feels like a slightly younger Sabrina the Teenage Witch and is another great graphic novel for those enjoying the run of middle school witch comics like SnapdragonThe Okay Witch, and The Witch Boy

—Becky Standal