Click here to see all of the current Great Graphic Novels nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
Skyward, vol. 3: Fix the World by Joe Henderson, Illustrated by Lee Garbett
Publication Date: September 3, 2019
Willa and Edison have split up in order to try to save the world. Edison is back in Chicago to warn everyone about the farmer/bug invasion headed their way and to come up with a plan to stop them. Willa is in Kansas City following her father’s last words to fix gravity, but Barrow is right behind her—trying to stop her. What neither of them realizes is that the “big red button” doesn’t actually fix gravity, it opens the path to the safe underground town, Crystal Springs, that Willa’s father built as a prototype city to protect people when gravity failed. Only gravity failed earlier than anticipated and the only people in the town are the ones who worked there previously. Now Willa is trapped in Crystal Springs and can’t get out to help Edison save Chicago.
In this final volume of the Skyward series, Henderson continues to enthrall readers with excellent world-building and surprising story twists. The artwork and storytelling remain at the same high quality as the previous volumes and the conclusion to the story will not disappoint readers of the series.
This whole series is great for fans of science fiction graphic novel series with strong female protagonists, like Paper Girls, Isola, and Blackbird.
The Highest House: Book One by Mike Carey, illustrated by Peter Gross
Publication Date: December 24, 2018
A high fantasy story about a young boy Moth, sold into slavery. He must learn to survive in the Highest House, a castle fortress; practically it’s own city. He begins to hear a magical voice that invades his dreams. The Obsidian will lead him on a journey of self-discovery where he is forced to forge a new path in life. He must learn many things if he is to survive and gain his freedom.
The world-building in the book is amazingly detailed but never boring. It is a longer read, but teens will be engaged in every page. There are so many great characters in this book including Fless to whom he is apprenticed in Highest House, and the princess Shurubai and her handmaiden. The artwork is gorgeous, and the subtle pallet of reds and brown give a decidedly historical feel and will keep readers glued to the page. Part One leaves many unanswered questions and readers will look forward to book two to see where the adventure goes next.
Perfect for fans of other Mike Carey/Peter Gross collaborations such as Unwritten and Lucifer, and readers of historical fantasy with strong female characters such as Isola and Monstress.
Crossover by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Crossover is the coming of age story of two twin brothers. Both Josh and Jordan Bell are heroes on the court, but as they get older, Jordan seems less interested in basketball and more interested in getting a girlfriend. Josh AKA Filthy McNasty (a name earned on the basketball court) is having a hard time dealing with the fact that Jordan has less time for basketball and ultimately, less time for him. The brothers stop speaking to each other after Josh purposely hits Jordan with a basketball. Josh is subsequently suspended from the team. While Josh has to learn to work through his feelings, his Dad, a former pro athlete and their coach at home, has been suffering silently. Upon collapse, the twins realize just how much their father’s health has declined. When their father is in the hospital, he makes them promise to play in their final game. Jordan leaves the game early to go to the hospital, and by the time Josh reaches the hospital their father has died.
Dawud Anyabwile does a beautiful job of matching Alexander’s onomatopoeia and verse with his drawings that incite sound and movement. The coloring reflects the humor and pain found in this graphic novel, with basketball orange relating funny moments or used to create excitement, and the stark black and white balance out the orange to evoke a sadness found in the more serious moments. This book excels as a graphic novel since the prose is poetic and effective in a similar way that the art is. The story is also one familiar to everyone, growing up and feeling left behind, especially by those we love the most.
This relatable tale of growing up and dealing with grief will appeal to both middle and high school students. Middle school readers looking for companionable tiles may enjoy Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson and high school readers may enjoy Check Please! By Ngosi Ukazu or The Avant Guards by Carly Usdin and Noah Hayes.