Click here to see all of the current Great Graphic Novels nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
Stepping Stones by Lucy Knisley
Random House Graphics / Penguin Random House
Published: May 5, 2020
Jen lives in the city, but when her parents split up, she is forced to move out to the country with her mom. Not only will she have to spend the summer getting used to life out there, but she also has to deal with two new sisters and a stepfather. Working at the farmers’ market provides a welcome distraction, but Jen’s difficulty with numbers makes her interaction with customers slightly uncomfortable, and her sisters’ teasing does nothing to improve the situation.
Stepping Stones is a surprisingly touching look at blended families and fitting in. Partially based on the author’s own childhood, Knisley portrays the heartache and confusion of growing up. The artwork is beautiful and does a lot to bring the story to life. Although on the young side, this title is still very relatable for a wide range of teens. Recommend it to readers who enjoy Raina Telgemeier, Shannon Hale, and Knisley’s other books including Relish, Something New, and French Milk.
Snapdragon by Kat Leyh
First Second / Macmillan
Publication Date: February 4, 2020
Snap knows witches aren’t real, but when her dog goes missing, she checks at the local witch’s house just in case. Sure enough, there is Good Boy, nursed back to health by Jacks after being hit by a car. When Snap finds a litter of possums clinging to their dead mother, she brings them to Jacks as well and an unlikely friendship begins. At school, Snap has some problems with bullies, but she befriends Lou (a trans girl who slowly begins transitioning through the book), and they bond over their shared love of a horror movie franchise called Witch’s Hill. At home, Snap’s single mother is busy working full-time and going to school while still being an active and supportive parent. The different parts of Snap’s life come together when she learns that Jacks has a history with Snap’s family, that witches are real after all, and that she, Snapdragon, might be one too.
Snapdragon is the kind of vibrant, fun comic that you read and immediately know who you want to give it to next. It’s populated with diverse, well-drawn characters and the plot is driven by the relationships between them. For young readers, this book fits snugly between Lumberjanes (which Leyh co-writes) and Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu. It’s also a great read-alike for The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner with its blend of witchcraft and family history.