When You've Read All the Raina Telgemeier... (Part 1)
You may know and love Raina Telgemeier (listen to her pronounce her name here) from her graphic novels Smile, Sisters, Drama and Ghosts, as well as her reboot of the Baby-Sitters Club in graphic novel format. Her books are among the most requested titles in the Petworth Library children's room -- we simply can not keep them on the shelf.
What's the allure? Well, for starters, her art is expressive and *adorable*. Her book covers are super fun. She's got a great sense of humor. Her storytelling is both relatable and compelling. But the most important thing of all, I think, is that she portrays young people respectfully, as the three-dimensional humans that they are -- full of hopes, talents, anxieties, troubles, intelligence, love and weirdness.
Unfortunately, Raina's next graphic novel, Guts, isn't due out until September 2019. So what on earth will you read until then? Fortunately, there are other authors (and artists!) with some of the same appealing qualities that can hold you over -- and maybe even become new favorites -- while you wait.
Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm (also available as an e-book)
Capturing both the possibilities and boredom of preteen summers, this is the story of Sunny Lewin, who is sent to stay with her grandfather in Florida for the summer and finds it to be less exciting than she imagined. The creators of the Babymouse series manage to strike a nice balance between sometimes tough subject matter and a mood that's bouncy and light, by bringing their usual dose of humor and adventure to a story that also deals with the pain of family secrets. If you enjoy this one and want to follow Sunny's entrance into middle school after summer ends, check out Swing It, Sunny.
Click by Kayla Miller
This title may appeal especially to those readers who enjoyed the school theater setting of Drama, as it tells the tale of fifth-grader Olive, who has never had any real problems getting along socially, but suddenly finds that everyone has developed acts for the school variety show but no one has asked her to join their group. Rather than exploring a weighty or dramatic conflict, this book addresses some of the more subtle, nuanced challenges of the tween social scene -- Who am I? Who are my people? -- in an upbeat way, with neat and clear visuals.
Funny Girl: Funniest. Stories. Ever. edited by Betsy Bird (also available as an e-book)
This collection of short fiction, nonfiction, poems and comic strips by various authors is sure to have something to strike your funny bone. Works by some of the creators on this very list are included in the volume (Shannon Hale, Jennifer Holm, Matthew Holm), as well as other popular writers and artists (CeCe Bell, Rita Williams-Garcia, Lenore Look, Libba Bray and more). But for fans finding out about this title here, the biggest treat of all is that it features a comic written and drawn by the great Raina Telgemeier herself.
The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez (also available as an e-book)
Seventh-grader Malú moves to a new school and she happily doesn't fit in, preferring instead to find her own little group of unique individuals and start a punk band. Her story deals honestly and sensitively with some weighty topics, like becoming an autonomous person, developing a sense of self, and the beauty and struggles surrounding identity and culture (Malú is half-Mexican and half-white, for instance, and gets called a "coconut" by kids at her school -- brown on the outside, white on the inside). In addition, though, readers are also treated to plenty of humor and light. And while this isn't a graphic novel, the drawings and zines by Malú interspersed throughout the text will appeal to art-lovers.
Real Friends by Shannon Hale & LeUyen Pham (also available as an e-book)
A memoir told in graphic novel format, this is Shannon's sweet, sad, enraging, happy and true story about a lifelong best friend who suddenly becomes friends with the de facto head of the school's most popular girls, collectively known, unimaginatively, as The Group. Anyone familiar with tween-age cliques that emerge suddenly and shift the whole school's social equilibrium, or even just anyone who has experienced changing friendships, will feel the truth emanating from the pages. LeUyen Pham's sensitive but fun art matches the tone of the story perfectly (you may know Pham's artwork from the Princess in Black or Alvin Ho series).
Goldie Vance, Volume 1 by Hope Larson & Brittney Williams
For readers who like a little mystery tossed into their realistic stories, Goldie Vance is a super fun (or should I say, "boss?") teenage detective series set in 1950's Florida. Goldie lives and works at the hotel that her dad manages; oh, and she also assists the hotel's in-house detective as he solves tough cases. (Why is there an in-house detective? That's part of the fun!). Although Goldie is sixteen years old in the series, as are most of her diverse cast of friends, the content is appropriate for readers of all ages. Each book in the series collects several issues of what was originally published as a single-issue comic series, so you get a full story arc each time you pick up a new volume.
Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy: A Graphic Novel by Rey Terciero & Bre Indigo
A contemporary re-telling of Louisa May Alcott's classic, Little Women, this graphic novel has plenty to appeal to both fans of the original and readers who are new to the story. Not set in Civil War New England, but instead current-day New York City, these March sisters are part of an interracial, blended family dealing with the overseas deployment of their father and the fact that their mother has to work long hours. Told dynamically through art, emails, journal entries and more, the updated story honors the heart of the source material -- a tale of four sisters with unique personalities, struggles and joys, but with a common love and support for one another.
Frazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom by Booki Vivat
Get into the head of Abby Wu, who is convinced that middle school = DOOM! Abby's anxieties about beginning middle school, as well as her everyday life, are captured hilariously in relatable doodles and breezy text. In addition to appealing to Raina Telgemeier fans, Frazzled is also likely to appeal to fans of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Dork Diaries series.
The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag
Girls grow up to be witches, boys become shape-shifters. That's how Aster's world works. However, he's thirteen, loves witchcraft, and has yet to shift shapes. Rendered in striking, colorful art, this lovely story about gender, friendship, family, magic and an unlikely hero, is a fabulous entry point to fantasy for fans of realistic stories and vice versa.
All's Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson (also available as an e-book)
Written and drawn by the creator of Roller Girl, All's Faire in Middle School really sticks the landing on the tension middle schoolers experience (and, actually, we all experience, right?) between free-spiritedness and the desire to fit in. Main character Imogene has always been home-schooled by her Renaissance Faire-employed parents, and she has always enjoyed her unique family and even looked forward to training to work at the Faire herself. But, now that she has decided to go to public middle school, lots of new experiences and relationships complicate her feelings about the Renaissance Faire, her family, friendship and herself. Besides the deceptively cute art that actually subtly portrays a great deal of complexity, my favorite aspect of this book is that the emotions of kids and adults alike are never simplified, and notions of "good" and "bad" are, realistically, complicated.