Click here to see all of the current Great Graphic Novels nominees along with more information about the list and past years’ selections.
All Together Now by Hope Larson
Farrar, Straus & Giroux Books for Young Readers / Macmillan
Publication Date: August 4, 2020
Bina and her friend Darcy are living it up, writing new songs, and shredding the guitar in their new band together. But when the two enlist fellow classmate Enzo to be their drummer and Darcy and Enzo’s relationship shifts into something new and unexpected, Bina’s left feeling betrayed and excluded. On top of that, Bina’s best friend Austin has been acting very weird ever since he broke up with his girlfriend, and Bina can’t help but wonder if it has something to do with her.
A follow up to the award-winning All Summer Long, All Together Now finds Bina struggling with shifting relationships and expectations from both her friends and herself. It is an honest and realistic look at navigating the ups and downs of friendship and growing up. It is realistic and emotional with great nuance and understanding of the characters. The colors are soothing and muted, but the emotions shine through clearly. It relays an excellent message of growing in your own time and being okay with not being ready for every opportunity that appears. While this book takes place in middle school, Bina and her friends are the perfect combination of attitude, immaturity, and confidence to resonate with both middle grade and teen readers.
All Together Now is a subtle and excellent coming-of-age story. Readers who liked Roller Girl, Drama, or of course, All Summer Long may enjoy this one as well.
Satoko and Nada, vol. 3 by Yupechika
Publication Date: June 16, 2020
Satoko and Nada’s story continues with Abdullah, the man Nada is arranged to marry, visiting America. The problem is that Nada never meets him! Satoko and the rest of her friends get to meet Abdullah, and they are cautious as they want to ensure Nada’s happiness. It turns out he’s a pretty nice guy. As with previous volumes, readers learn about Japanese and Saudi Arabian customs and culture.
Satoko and Nada is a fun manga title for younger teens and it is specifically a gentle read that will appeal to parents who are involved in their children’s reading choices. A great slice-of-life story told in one-page vignettes, this book will appeal to many readers who struggle with being interested in reading. Both title characters are charming and respectful of each other’s culture, and it is a treat to see their friendship blossom and grow.
Graphic novels that might appeal to Satoko and Nada fans include Jonesy by Sam Humphries, Stargazing by Jen Wang, and Kayla Miller’s Click series. Novels of interest include Ways to Make Sunshine by Renée Watson, American as Paneer Pie by Supriya Kelkar, and Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan.
The Golden Age, Book 1 by Roxanne Moreil and Cyril Pedrosa, translated by Montana Kane
First Second / Macmillan
Publication Date: February 11, 2020
Princess Tilda plans to bring relief to the people after her coronation, but instead, her younger brother takes over in a coup and exiles her. She is rescued by a loyal knight and his ward, and the three of them travel to a holding where they hope to find support to reclaim the throne. But, beyond the scheming of royals, a rebellion is building among the villagers.
The Golden Age is cinematic in artwork and design; you can really see the illustrator’s experience in Disney animation on the page. It is not, however, a sanitized fairy tale. The art is hand-drawn in ink with incredible detail and then digitally colored in bright, atmospheric color palettes. The story is occasionally violent, and violence involving Tilda is treated like a fever dream—has it really happened? Is she having a vision? The book is printed in a large format, which makes it easy to appreciate the unique artwork. The Golden Age ends on a cliffhanger that will have readers eager for book two.
This book will find readership with those who enjoy political medieval fantasy like Robin LaFevers’s Courting Darknessor her earlier His Fair Assassin series or even Game of Thrones (the books or the show). As far as Disney goes, the movie this book most evokes is Sleeping Beauty, both in setting and style. Fans of The Highest House by Mike Carey and Peter Gross and The Daughters of Ys by M.T. Anderson and Jo Rioux may also enjoy The Golden Age.
Ms. Marvel, vol. 2: Stormranger by Saladin Ahmed, Joey Vazquez, and Minkyu Jung
Publication Date: April 14, 2020
Kamala Khan takes a break from being Ms. Marvel after her space adventure in volume one, trying to sort out her feelings about Bruno, and her father’s illness. Kamala’s friends Zoe and Nakia whisk her away on a road trip, but even Ms. Marvel can’t catch a break when the three run into a bad guy. Kamala takes her feelings for Bruno to the next level.
The art gags are where this volume shines, specifically Minkyu Jung’s work. There are so many laugh-out-loud moments in this book, despite several dramatic storylines coming together. Teens will love Kamala’s awkwardness and her attempts at keeping her identity a secret. As with the current Miles Morales series, Ahmed nails the interactions between teen characters and the dialogue is fresh and engaging. Teen fans of the G. Willow Wilson run of Ms. Marvel will not be able to discern a difference in writers—Wilson did a great job building Kamala’s character and Ahmed picked up the writing seamlessly.
This book is perfect for fans of Ahmed’s work on Miles Morales but will also appeal to readers of other funny graphic novels such as I Was Their American Dream: A Graphic Memoir by Malaka Gharib and Mark Russell’s Wonder Twins. Ms. Marvel fans might enjoy the coming-of-age realness of Hulu’s Pen15 and the 2018 film Hearts Beat Loud.