Great Graphic Girls

Cleveland Park LibraryStaff Picks

Great Graphic Girls

Children's graphic novels featuring female characters

Move over Superman! Graphic novels are quickly becoming a diverse and quality subset of children's literature. Over the last decade the genre has exploded with stories about dynamic, powerful girls just waiting to be explored. The following list is just a small selection of my current favorites.

Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

This is always my first graphic novel suggestion. Zita's friend is abducted by aliens and she immediately jumps to the rescue. Along the way she encounters all manner of monsters and robots both friend and foe. It's a funny and endearing adventure and Ben Hatke's art only makes it that much more enjoyable.

Love Zita? Don't worry! The fun continues in Legends of Zita the Spacegirl and The Return of Zita the Spacegirl.

Cleopatra in Space by Mike Maihack

Yes, on first glance this may seem like a Zita the Spacegirl knock off. And yes, much like Zita it is a rollicking space adventure involving a young spunky heroine. However there are a few twists along the way that make this book worth mentioning on its own. The titular Cleopatra is in fact the historical Cleopatra, complete with talking cat sidekick, who finds a magical tablet that zaps her into the future. Once there she enrolls in a prestigious school where she learns combat training alongside more traditional school subjects. Besides the time travel and vague historical references, Cleopatra in Space reads much more like a school novel complete with detention and exams which adds a fun twist to the space adventuring.

Read more about Cleopatra's adventures in the Thief and the Sword.

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

This book is a fascinating look into the high speed world of roller derby. Astrid signs up for roller derby and decides to stick with it even after her best friend decides to do dance instead. She quickly learns that roller derby is a lot harder than it looks. Instead of giving up she works even harder and finds more than she bargained as roller derby helps her find her place in the world. It also won an Newbery honor this year, yet another example of how graphic novels are becoming a powerful force in children's literature.

Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson

This book had me from the title and did not disappoint. Five girls are spending the summer at Miss Qiunzilla Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's camp for hard-core lady-types and get into all sorts of shenanigans from fighting off river monsters to investigating suspicious behavior in the boy's camp. Friendship to the max!

The Lumberjanes saga continues in Friendship to the Max.

PrinceLess by Jeremy Whitley

Princess Adrienne is not waiting around to be rescued. Instead she takes her fate into her own hands and goes adventuring with her trusty dragon Sparky. The dialogue is witty and delightful which makes it a fun read for all ages.

Princess Adrienne continues her adventure in Get Over Yourself, The Pirate Princess and Be Yourself.

Giants Beware by Jorge Aguirre

In this delightful medieval romp Claudette, accompanied by her brother the aspiring pastry chef and her best friend an aspiring princess, leave their quiet village behind in search of adventure. It's funny, lighthearted and whimsical, sure to delight all fans of magical quests.

If, like Claudette, Giants Beware doesn't quench your adventuring spirit try the sequel Dragons Beware!

El Deafo by Cece Bell

El Deafo is another Newbery Honor winning graphic novel. It is also an autobiographical account of how Cece fits into her new school with her brand new hearing aid. She gives herself the nickname El Deafo because her hearing aid allows her to hear things other kids cannot- like when the teacher forgets to turn off her microphone in the teacher's lounge! El Deafo is a school story everyone can relate to and enjoy- whether they have super hearing or not.

For other great coming of age graphic school stories check out Raina Telgemeier's novels Drama and Smile.

Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

So yes, this isn't technically a graphic novel. But it is an illustrated adventure that tells part of the story through pictures so I say it counts. Plus there's something for everyone in this adorable laugh out loud adventure. Flora takes in Ulysses the squirrel after a near fatal encounter with a vacuum cleaner. Ulysses comes back better than ever under Flora's care and even develops super powers! This title won the Newbery Medal in 2014.

If you decide you like the text/picture format of Flora and Ulysses try Hugo Cabret, Wonderstruck, and the Marvels.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North

Another book about squirrels with super powers! This time they serve as the awesome sidekicks to Squirrel Girl, a self appointed superhero who is going to save the world single-handedly. This is an example of superhero comics at their best, smart, funny and full of girl power!

Keep up with Squirrel Girl in Squirrel You Know It's True. For more superhero fun try the Ms. Marvel series.

Little Robot by Ben Hatke

Last but not least there is Little Robot. A story of friendship in unlikely places, I really like Little Robot for its text simplicity. You really have to pay attention to the pictures to understand the story which makes it perfect for beginning readers or more advanced readers who are just getting into graphic novels. Plus, robots!