Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Great Graphic Novels

Graphic novels (and non-fiction) are gaining in popularity every day. Many of them provide great writing along with stunning illustration. Here are a few that you might enjoy.

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang is the story of a young Chinese boy trying to fit into America without losing his Chinese heritage. This graphic novel includes some old Chinese stories mingled with magical realism as the boy copes with teen life that is suddenly complicated by the arrival of a cousin from China. This is aimed at middle school students.

Into the Volcano by Don Wood has some pretty dramatic pictures to carry the dramatic story of two brothers who are suddenly taken to a remote Pacific Island and forced to go into a volcano which is erupting. Readers in grades four and up will enjoy this adventure.

The Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan is truly a work of art. The illustrations are filled with grays and blues to portray life in the Dust Bowl. The magical realism is further defined by references to The Wizard of Oz. Middle school readers will appreciate this unique story.

Binky the Space Cat by Ashley Spires will appeal to all ages of graphic novel readers because Binky is such a real cat with high aspirations. He thinks that insects are aliens about to take over the planet and he springs into action as only a cat would.

Joey Fly, Private Eye in Creepy Crawly Crime by Aaron Reynolds will have fans of detective novels rejoicing. Adults will see familiar writing styles as Joey tries to find a missing diamond pencil box that belongs to a beautiful butterfly. If you like this book, read the Chet Gecko stories by Bruce Hale, they are detective parody at its best. Readers in grades three or four and up will enjoy all of these books.

Bone by Jeff Smith has made readers out of many a reluctant third to sixth grader with its crazy characters who get into outlandish adventures.

To Dance: A Memoir by Siena Cherson Siegel shows that graphic novels do not have to be funny. This is a touching memoir of a girl who dreamed of being a professional ballet dancer and how difficult it is to succeed, even at prestigious ballet school. Ballet lovers in grades four and up will be moved by this story.

Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow by James Sturm and Rich Tommaso uses the graphic format to tell a moving story of sharecroppers and the Negro Baseball League when Satchel Paige was a just beginning to make his mark. Baseball is one tool that the sharecroppers to have to put Jim Crow in his place.

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