Graphic novels have exploded in popularity in recent years. But what exactly is a graphic novel? The precise definition can be difficult to pinpoint. Usually, a graphic novel is published in book format and has a complete story line. Zahra Baird writes, “A successful graphic novel starts with a stellar story told with words and pictures that augment the story, providing insight that text alone cannot do.”* Graphic novels cross numerous genres and include adventure stories, science fiction, historical fiction, retellings of classic literature and biography. While graphic novels usually appeal to teenagers and middle school students, there are many books appropriate for younger children. The following is a selection of graphic novels that showcase the variety available.
* Baird, Z. M., & Jackson, T. (2007). Got Graphic Novels? More Than Just Superheroes In Tights! Children & Libraries: The Journal of the Association for Library Service to Children, 5(1), 4-7.
The Strongest Man in the World: Louis Cyr. 2007.
Louis Cyr astounded audiences throughout North America and Europe with his amazing feats and mammoth proportions. Discover the life and times of this extraordinary hero in this biography in the graphic novel format.
[Education S Collection: SB. C997d]
Fagin the Jew. 2003.
A retelling of the classic novel Oliver Twist from the perspective of the villain, Fagin.
[Undergrad: 741.5973 Ei87f]
Babymouse: Queen of the World. 2005.
An imaginative mouse dreams of being queen of the world, but will settle for an invitation to the most popular girl’s slumber party. Appropriate for younger children.
[Center for Children’s Books: S. H73b]
Horror of the Heights. 2006.
Dean Lambert suffers from a fear of heights–a big deal if your brother is a diving champion and your father runs the Wave Crest Health Club. Someone is out to sabotage the diving board that Dean fears. He needs to expose the saboteur for everyone’s sake.
[Education S Collection: S. M393h]
Castle Waiting. 2006.
A collection of tales tell the story of an abandoned castle and the humorous fairy tale characters living there.
[Undergrad: 741.59 M469c]
SuperHero ABC. 2006.
Humorous SuperHeroes such as Goo Girl and The Volcano represent the letters of the alphabet from A to Z. For younger children.
[Education S Collection: Q. SE. M225s]
O’Brien, Anne Sibley.
Legend of Hong Kil Dong. 2006.
Graphic novel treatment of the life and career Hong Kil Dong, the Korean equivalent of Robin Hood.
[Education S Collection: Q.S.741.5 Ob62l]
The Adventures of Captain Underpants: an Epic Novel. 1997.
When George and Harold hypnotize their principal into thinking that he is the superhero Captain Underpants, he leads them to the lair of the nefarious Dr. Diaper, where they must defeat his evil robot henchmen. Appropriate for younger children.
[Education S Collection: S.P644a]
Shark and Lobster’s Amazing Undersea Adventure. 2006.
Follows the humorous attempts of Shark and Lobster to conquer their fear of tigers. Appropriate for younger children.
[Education S Collection: S.741.5 Sch966s]
Little Vampire Goes to School. 2003.
A lonely little vampire, yearning for a friend, gets permission from the other monsters to go to school and makes the acquaintance of a boy who does not believe that vampires are real. Appropriate for younger children.
[Education S Collection: Q. S. Sf16l]
Age of Bronze: a Thousand Ships. 2001.
The first part in a projected series about the Trojan War.
Siegel, Siena Cherson (artwork by Mark Siegel)
To Dance: a Memoir. 2006.
The author describes how she first decided she wanted to be a ballerina at the age of six, and how that dream carried her from her home in Puerto Rico to dance class in Boston to performing with the New York City Ballet. Appropriate for younger children.
[Education S Collection: SB. S571s]
The adventure starts when cousins Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone are run out of Boneville and later get separated and lost in the wilderness, meeting monsters and making friends as they attempt to return home. (Description from NoveList.)
[Education S Collection: S.741.5973 Sm613bo]
Spiegelman, Art and Mouly, Francoise (editors)
Little Lit: Strange Stories for Strange Kids. 2001.
A collection of bizarre stories, comics, and features depicting a fantastical world where nothing is what it seems offers contributions from such authors as Maurice Sendak, David Sedaris, Posy Simmonds, Ian Falconer, and Kim Deitch. (Description from NoveList.)
[Education Storage: Q.S.741.5973 L721]
Stamaty, Mark Alan
Too Many Time Machines: Or, the Incredible Story of How I Went Back In Time, Met Babe Ruth, and Discovered the Secret of Home Run Hitting. 1999.
Roger uses his time machine to visit Babe Ruth and learn some of the secrets of The Babe’s success, enabling Roger’s team to win the championship.
[Education Storage: S.St21t]
Stuck in the Middle: Seventeen Comics From an Unpleasant Age. 2007.
The hardships, dramas, and joys of seventh and eighth grade are presented in a collection of tales, illustrated by an array of graphic novelists, including Daniel Clowes and Ariel Schrag.(Description from NoveList.)
[Education S Collection: Q. S.741.5St937s]
The Arrival. 2007.
In this wordless graphic novel, a man leaves his homeland and sets off for a new country, where he must build a new life for himself and his family.
[Education S Collection: Q. S.741.595 T153a]
Robot Dreams. 2007.
The enduring friendship between a dog and a robot is portrayed in this wordless graphic novel.
[Center for Children’s Books: S.741.59 V434r]
Further resources for choosing and using graphic novels:
The 101 Best Graphic Novels. 2005.
[Undergrad: 016.74159 W431o2005]
Developing and Promoting Graphic Novel Collections. 2005.
[Library and Information Science Library: 025.289 M618d]
Lyga, Allyson A.W.
Graphic Novels in Your Media Center. 2004.
[Education Curriculum Collection: CURR.025.56LIBUN2004]