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Tag: great graphic novels for teens

2018 Great Graphic Novels for Teens

In case you missed it, The Great Graphic Novels for Teens list was recently announced! Check out the top ten below!

  • The Backstagers. By James Tynion IV. Illus. by Rian Sygh. 2017. BOOM! Studios, $14.99 (9781608869930). Jory, a new student at an all-boys school, feels left out of school life until he stumbles upon the backstage crew of the drama club and the mysterious tunnels they keep watch over.
  • Black Hammer, Volume 1: Secret Origins. By Jeff Lemire. Illus. by Dean Ormston. 2017. Dark Horse, $14.99 (9781616557867). Abraham Slam, Golden Gail, Colonel Weird, Madame Dragonfly, and Barbalien are trapped! In their old lives they were superheroes, but because of a strange occurrence in their multiverse they are thrust into life in a rural town from which they cannot escape.
  • Brave. By Svetlana Chmakova. Illus. by the author. 2017. Yen Press, $11.00 (9780316363189). Jensen, a daydreaming artist obsessed with sunspots and NASA, navigates middle school, bullies and math!
  • I Am Alfonso Jones. By Tony Medina. Illus. by Stacey Robison and John Jennings. 2017. Tu Books, $18.95 (9781620142639). Fifteen year old Alfonso Jones is shot by the police while shopping for a suit, and his loved ones and classmates are left behind to address his death and the larger issue of police brutality.
  • Jonesy. By Sam Humprhies. Illus. by Caitlin Rose Boyle. Jonsey’s superpower is that she can make anyone fall in love with anything… except herself!
    • v.1. 2016. BOOM! Studios, $9.99 (9781608868834).
    • v.2. BOOM! Studios, $14.99 (9781608869992).
    • v.3. BOOM! Studios, $14.99 (9781684150168).

For the Love of Dogs (and a Few Wolves): Canines in YA Literature

Image by NDPetitt. See:
Image by NDPetitt. See:

This Valentine’s Day, because my husband needed to be away, my dog was my date.  That evening she and I took a walk, had dinner and lounged on the couch together.  I read while she dozed and snored.  In other words, we had a perfect evening.  This made me think that in this month of love, I’d like to honor our canine friends who devote themselves to us so unconditionally.

Below are several YA novels (and one adult novel well-suited to teens), some in print and some in graphic format, in which canines play a large part.  They may be the main character’s best friend or arch enemy, or even the story’s protagonist.  I’ve taken the liberty of including a few books with wolves. I’m hoping you’ll agree that the probable common ancestry of wolves and dogs — and also just the fact that these “wolf” novels are pretty great — justifies the inclusion of these works.

Make sure to also check out earlier Hub posts about dogs and other animals in YA literature.  See Laura Perenic’s “Dog Days of Summer…Reading” (8/7/12) and Kate McNair’s “Animals Who Shine” (9/14/12).

laika nick abadzisLaika by Nick Abadzis (2008 Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens)

This is a fictionalized account of Laika, the Samoyed-husky who in November 1957 became the first sentient being to leave Earth’s orbit, on the Sputnik II satellite.  A dog who had survived on the streets of Russia, she was taken by scientists in order to further their space program, her life knowingly sacrificed.  This is a powerful and poignant graphic novel which shows how politics can generate intense pressure on scientists to be first in their field.  (younger teen graphic novel)


BB Wolf and the Three LPs by J. D. Arnold & Rich Koslowski (2011 Great Graphic Novels for Teens)

This graphic novel turns the story of The Three Little Pigs on its head.  In this version, BB Wolf is a farmer and blues musician in the Mississippi Delta in the 1920s. When the pigs decide that they’re going to take his land, BB Wolf strikes back in revenge.  There are parallels here to Jim Crow racial segregation and oppression and also to the life of the real Barnabus Benjamin Wolf, who influenced American Blues music and was executed for murder.  (older teen graphic novel) 

Oldies but Still Goodies from YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels Lists

The War at EllsmereLately, I’ve had to weed my Young Adult Graphic Novel collection because I am just running out of room.
  Weeding is always a sad process, be it in a public library or in your personal collection – I just always think, well, if I just give them another month or another week, someone will pick up this book!   I always like to think that there’s a book here for every person, and unfortunately, some books just don’t get a lot of love or get matched up with their perfect person during their time in the collection. 

That got me thinking about this post; I wanted to spotlight older titles, but how would I choose them since there are so many great books out there from years past?  Then, aha!  I had an epiphany – what if I highlighted some of my favorite comics & graphic novels from YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens lists? 

So, I went back through all the GGNT lists, and picked out some of my favorites from the 2007-2011 lists.  Now, some of these books are pretty popular and some are not, but they are all great graphic reads for all different kinds of readers.  From Star Wars to cat burglars to Batman (well, Batwoman, but, close enough), everyone will find something fun to read on this list – and these are old books!  Well, oldish – and older books can be some of the best books.   So, join me, readers, on this walk down memory lane as we revisit some favorites and hopefully, put the spotlight on some forgotten or overlooked treasures.

2007 Great Graphic Novels for Teens:

Star Wars:  Tag & Bink Were Here by Kevin Rubio & Lucas Marangon:  From the inaugural GGNT list, I chose one of very favorite comics ever!  Tag & Bink are two bumbling rebels who, when they come face to face with Stormtroopers, decide to knock them out and steal their uniforms, and thus, their times as members of the Imperial Army begin.  They aren’t the most savvy or smartest of the bunch, so in addition to not being found out by Darth Vader and his minions, they are also trying to stay alive and get back to the other members of the rebellion.  What’s funny about this book is that Tag & Bink are involved in every major event that happens in the movies – and they’re usually on the verge of messing something up or getting themselves found out.  This book is great for Star Wars aficionados as well as newbies – because it introduces something new and hilarious to established movies with no prior knowledge needed.  All of your favorite characters from Episodes IV-VI make appearances here, and this book will definitely keep you laughing until the very last page! 

Did You Love Lost? Try These Books!

photo by flickr user brewbooks

Where I live, the temperatures and humidity are climbing these days, leaving me feeling a bit bedraggled and wilted. Weather like this prompts a strong nostalgia in me for one of my favorite TV shows, Lost, both because I feel as humidity-drenched as they all look on the island, and because the heat saps my energy, so I need a book with a hook strong enough to generate its own page-turning momentum, the way Lost expertly hooked me with truly bizarre discoveries, goosebump-causing unexplained phenomena, and never-quite-enough tidbits of the characters’ lives before the crash.

While I can never go back to the jaw-dropping, melodramatic delights of viewing Lost for the very first time, I can, and do, regularly seek out reading materials that will deliver that same tantalizing mix of survival, conspiracy, flashback storytelling with globetrotting locales, a diverse and varied cast of secret-keeping characters, and developments so strange I actually say, “What?!” out loud. The books in the following list all offered one or many of those factors.

MIND MGMT Vol. 1: The Manager by Matt Kindt – Perhaps an obvious pick, given that Lost producer Damon Lindelof loved this so much he wrote the foreword, and that Kindt has given Lost a very direct nod by numbering the “lost” flight in his story 815. It’s supposed to appeal to Lost fans. But just because a thing is supposed to appeal doesn’t always mean it hits its mark. Imagine my delight then, to be promised by Lindelof that I was in for just the kind of wild ride Lost used to deliver so reliably, and then to have the book in my hand actually take me on just such a ride. This is one of those plots that keeps unfolding to reveal new layers, introducing new characters, and feeding you information from the past and the present without ever explaining anything fully (so just resign yourself to a degree of uncertainty about everything).  MIND MGMT Vol. 1 was one of 2014’s Top Ten Great Graphic Novels for Teens, and the graphic format here really served the fragmented storytelling; what was going on in the frames could be saying one thing, and then the frame itself could say something else entirely, and the reader could follow the action through many places and time periods very quickly with a few key visual cues. The best part, for me, of discovering this bizarre (and, fair warning, violent) world; it’s an ongoing series. 

Great Graphic Novels for Teens Top Ten 2013 (Part 3 of 3)

Welcome back to our third and final installment of 2013 Great Graphic Novels for Teens Top Ten. Today’s books delve into a seriously wide range of topics: the civil rights movement, canine loyalty, middle school drama (both on and off the stage), and another magnificent super hero reboot.

The Silence of our FriendsAs far as Top Ten books go, The Silence of Our Friends by Mark Long, Jim Demonakos, and Nate Powell was kind of a no-brainer. Told from the perspective of a young white boy whose family moves into an openly racist neighborhood, this semi-autobiographical story is set during the height of the Civil Rights Movement in Houston. The narrative is incredibly tense but peppered with quiet introspective moments, and the deft storytelling easily carries readers through both the personal and political stories. Nate Powell’s ink work is gorgeous and heightens the emotional undercurrents of the story without stealing the spotlight. Said one GGNFT committee member, “This book is ultimately about how difficult it is to be a good person.”

Great Graphic Novels for Teens Top Ten 2013 (Part 2 of 3)

In our first post on Great Graphic Novels for Teens’s 2013 Top Ten, we looked at the three nonfiction titles that made the list.  This week will be a little more eclectic — but no less fabulous.

Ultimate Spider-Man by Brian Bendis and Sara PichelliFirst up is one of my favorite graphic novels from 2012, Ultimate Comics Spider-man, Volume 1. I already raved about this title back in July, but we’ll take another look today, just in case you missed it. First off, readers need to know that Ultimate Comics is an alternate universe that re-imagines the original super hero stories. Remember Peter Parker, the original Spider-Man? Forget him, he’s dead. This new version of Spider-Man is about high school kid from Brooklyn named Miles Morales who — you guessed it — is bitten by a weird spider and soon begins to exhibit some very strange abilities. This title was a committee favorite from the beginning because of its complex story, Miles’s realistic internal struggles, a pitch-perfect sidekick, and some of the most gorgeous super hero comic art around.

2013 Great Graphic Novels for Teens Top Ten (Part 1 of 3)

It’s been a couple of weeks since YALSA’s 2013 book awards and media lists were announced, but we here at The Hub wanted to delve a little deeper into some of the more exceptional titles we saw last year. Despite the fact that graphic novels continue to increase in popularity, availability, and quality, there are still many people who simply don’t read them and, subsequently, have a difficult time figuring out which ones are good choices for teen readers.  We intend to fix that by taking a closer look at the 2013 Great Graphic Novels for Teens Top 10 in a three-part series. Today’s post will tackle the three non-fiction titles that made the list.

My Friend Dahmer by Derf BackderfFirst up is Derf Backderf’s My Friend Dahmer. I won’t lie: I’m not so good with true crime and I put off reading this as long as I could, but once I opened the cover I simply couldn’t put it down. Seamlessly blending true crime and memoir, the author recalls his relationship with high school classmate Jeffrey Dahmer. Why did this make the GGNFT Top 10? The unforgettable and honestly-told story is served remarkably well by the author’s use of the graphic format. Backderf’s drawing style perfectly evokes the time period, and he uses the black-and-white palette to its fullest effect, creating darkly emotional panels that brilliantly convey Dahmer’s internal struggles. It is a horrific and difficult story, but Backderf tells it with a surprising level of emotional complexity, depth, and even compassion. This one also made the 2013 Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers list and was named a 2013 Alex Award winner, which means you had better go read it this instant.

Summer of Superheroes

If you thought superheroes hit big in past summers, think again. Marvel’s latest comic book movie, The Avengers, broke box office records, making over 200 million dollars opening weekend, and is the number one movie again this weekend. Although many predicted a strong opening given the director (cult favorite Joss Whedon) and actors (Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Samuel L. Jackson, and Scarlett Johansson, just to name a few) and the success of previous Avengers-related films  (Iron Man 1 and Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America), few expected the insane level of success. (If you’re wondering what Earth’s mightiest heroes prefer to read, check out Maria Kramer’s Avenger’s Reading List from last week.)

And this is just the beginning for Marvel. Want to find out more about The Avengers but don’t feel sure where to start? The A.V. Club (sister site to The Onion) put together a Gateway to Geekery article that highlights not-to-miss Avengers titles.

…And Taking Names: Graphic Novel Heroines

There’s nothing I love more than a strong, butt-kicking female heroine in graphic novels. You know who I’m talking about: a girl that is tough, smart and knows her way around a weapon. Sometimes they can be hard to find, but luckily YALSA’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens are full of them. Here’s a list of my favorite female graphic heroines.

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch (2011 Great Graphic Novel for Teens)

Mirka doesn’t buy the whole “only boys can have swords and fights dragons” business her brother feeds her. She knows she’d be the best dragon slayer in Hereville if she only had a dragon-slaying sword and some dragons to slay. When she gets her wish, a dragon-slaying sword of her own, she finds out just how tough being a hero is.

Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale, Dale Hale and Nathan Hale (2009 Great Graphic Novel for Teens)

Rapunzel’s the girl on want on my side in a fight. Not content to stay locked in the tower, Rapunzel busts herself out and then sets out to find the people who separated her family and to save her mother. Along the way she collects something of a merry band of riff-raff and gets into a scrap or two that requires her to whip out her secret weapon: her long, deadly braid.