Click here to see all of the current Great Graphic Novels nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
Lumberjanes, vol. 11: Time After Crime by Shannon Watters, Kat Leyh, and Ayme Sotuyo
Publication Date: April 2, 2019
After the adventures of Parent’s Day, Molly realizes that the summer will soon come to an end, and she will have to return home to judgmental and unaccepting parents without the support of her fellow Lumberjanes. Trying to find any way to stay just a little longer, Molly thinks that Jo’s new device will locate the source of the camp’s time anomalies, and maybe the key to making summer last just a little longer. Locating a mysterious voice in the forest, Molly strikes a deal to make her dreams a reality. However, when camp suddenly turns into an apocalyptic-like treehouse world, Molly realizes she may have accidentally made everything worse instead.
Another rollicking Lumberjanes adventure, this volume wonderfully explores the lengths a person will go to when desperation strikes. Though Molly takes matters into her own hands to solve her problems, her friends still band together to support her and help make everything right again. Ayme Sotukyo’s fun comic-like illustrations help give lightness to the more serious elements of the story and add to the action-packed treehouse adventure sequences. Hand to readers looking for fun girl-power books such as The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl series by Ryan North or the Princeless series by Jeremy Whitley.
This Was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews
Publication Date: June 11, 2019
Every year, the townsfolk drop paper lanterns into the river to celebrate the Autumn Equinox Festival. This year, Ben and his buddies—plus misfit tagalong Nathaniel—are determined to follow the lanterns as far as they go. They have two rules: No one turns for home, and no one looks back. But soon, only Ben and Nathaniel are left biking along the river. Ben is determined to stick to the pact—and just as determined to not have any fun while annoying, geeky Nathaniel is around. But Nathaniel’s relentless enthusiasm and Ben’s own sense of adventure get the best of him—especially when that adventure expands to include a loquacious Fisher Bear, an under-pressure potion maker, and a journey with enough wonder and whimsy to capture the heart of every reader.
This Was Our Pact is a middle school adventure with a dose of magical realism and fantasy. Ben and Nathaniel are both very real, relatable, flawed boys trying to figure out their places in the world. Ben is insecure, too worried about what his more popular peers might think to let his guard down and enjoy himself, but he also has a loyal conscience that’s dying to be listened to. Nathaniel’s fearless sense of wonder and curiosity means he can come off as an annoying know-it-all, but he asks the questions everyone else is afraid to ask, and he’s not afraid of the answers either. Their relationship grounds the story even during its most fantastical moments, which are illustrated in moody nighttime blues and grays with flashes of warm reds, yellows, and pinks. This Was Our Pact is an enchanting, creative graphic novel that’s firmly grounded in the real, messy dynamics of coming-of-age. Share with fans of Kelly Barnhill, Neil Gaiman, and Shaun Tan, and kids who wish Stranger Things wasn’t quite so scary.
White Bird: A Wonder Story by R.J. Palacio
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 1, 2019
Readers first met Julian’s grandmother, Grandmère, in her collection of stories, Auggie & Me. In this graphic novel debut, Palacio tells Grandmère’s heartbreaking story: how she, a young Jewish girl, was hidden by a family in a Nazi-occupied French village during World War II; and how the boy Sara and her classmates once shunned, became her savior and best friend.
Sara’s experience and her friendship with Julian are a welcome addition to Palacio’s body of work and her consistent focus on how kindness can change hearts, build bridges, and in this case, save lives. The message of courage in the face of hatred and ignorance is more relevant than ever today and Palacio makes that connection clear despite the historical setting. The artwork is strong and vividly depicts the setting (the bluebell forest is particularly stunning), and the comprehensive back matter provides answers to questions about WWII and the specific experiences of Jews in Vichy France.
This title will appeal to fans of historical fiction and of Palacio’s work, as well as the film Wonder.