The following is a list of titles that I have read which would be catalogued for children’s readership, ages 0-12.
Allison, Rachel Hope. I’m Not a Plastic Bag (Archaia, 2012). This is the deeply affecting true story of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a floating island of garbage in the Northern Pacific Ocean. Told exclusively through panels and images, follow a plastic bag and an island of trash while contemplating the power and destruction human-made waste has on the planet.
Britt, Fanny. Jane, The Fox, and Me (Groundwood Books, 2013). Helen is being bullied by the kids at school. She has few friends and she is occupied with her physical appearance. To help her cope with her insecurities she turns to Jane Eyre and finds a kindred spirit in the novel’s heroine. The beautiful soft penciled drawings reflect the insecurities and timidity of a child growing up.
Hicks, Faith Erin. The War at Ellsmere (Slave Labour Graphics Publishing, 2007). This coming of age school story follows Juniper, a 13 year old girl who just won a scholarship to a prestigious boarding school. But there are more than academic lessons awaiting Juniper, as she navigates a spooky forest, possible monsters, and a semi-crazy roommate.
JonArno & Smith, Sydeny. Sidewalk Flowers (Groundwood Books, 2015). Often shelved with picture books, this is the tale of a young girl who collects wildflowers as she wonders through town with her otherwise occupied father. As she sees need, she shares her flowers with those around her and is a gentle reminder of the power of kindness. With minimal colour and background noise, and rendered in pen and ink, this is an exquisite, and powerful tale.
Kim, Patti & Sanchez, Sonia. Here I Am (Picture Window Books, 2015). This touching story of a young boy in a new city captures the essence of culture shock and what it means to start over. The light tones of water colours in the panels suggest hesitancy, reluctance, acceptance and beauty.
Runton, Andy. Owly: The Way Home and the Bittersweet Summer (Top Shelf Productions, 2004). In this beautiful tale of friendship, Owly, a small yet brave owl, contemplates nature, family, friends, and love through the un-jaded innocence of childhood. Children who are reluctant or early readers will appreciate the book especially for its minimal use text. Runton has created a timeless tale appreciated by fans of all ages. Though told in cartoon-styled minimalist drawing, Runton expertly conveys deep emotion. This is the first volume in a series which has published six volumes to date.
Selznick, Brian. The invention of Hugo Cabret (Scholastic Press, 2007). While not strictly a graphic novel, this novel expertly blends prose narrative with visual storytelling in such a way that transitioning from pages of text to pages of images is seamless and wonderfully overwhelming to the reader. The exquisite detail of the deftly drawn pencil pictures that narrate much of this book is engrossing. Set in the 1900’s, orphan, Hugo, uncovers family secrets and is swept away by film history as he longs to learn more about his father who died and a cantankerous old man. The book won the Caldecott Medal in 2008, despite not being strictly a picture book, and is the only novel to do so. It was adapted for film by Martin Scorsese.
Smith, Jeff. Bone series (Scholastic, 1995-2009). The immensely popular all ages series follows three bone cousins as they are exiled from Boneville, separated, and navigating foreign lands only to uncover a sinister force that would threaten the world they inhabit and the people and creatures they have grown to befriend. Originally published as black and white serials, the series has been since collected in volume format (9 in total) with bright colouring. Bone is the recipient of 11 Harvey Awards and 10 Eisner Awards, including Best Comic Book.This is the first volume in a series of nine.
Tan, Shaun. The Arrival (Hodder Children’s Books, 2006). This image-only story tells the tale of an immigrant man seeking new life for his family after a haunting monster invades his homeland. The story, which is told sequentially through panels, bound as a scrapbook and photo album, and drawn in spectacular pencil is a visually stunning account of love, loneliness and uncertainty. This is a very timely and timeless book.
Telemeier, Raina. Drama (Scholastic Graphix, 2012). Callie is having the time of her life as the set designer for her middle school’s musical. As she focuses on theatre, she can’t help but be sidetracked by friendship, crushes, a love triangle, and a younger sibling. Callie soon discovers life doesn’t always play out the way it was intended. This book is visually appealing for its cartoonish artistry.
Telemeier, Raina. Sisters (Scholastic Graphix, 2014). In this memoir, young Raina reflects on growing up as an older sister and her role in the transitions of her family during her early teenage years. This book is visually appealing for its cartoonish artistry and bold colours. It was the recipient of an Eisner Award.
Telemeier, Raina. Smile (Scholastic Graphix, 2010). Raina longs to be a normal sixth grader, but when she falls down and damages her two front teeth everything changes. This is a Telemeier’s love-hate relationship with braces and how they affected her early teenage years. This book is visually appealing for its cartoonish artistry and bold colours. It was the recipient of an Eisner Award.
Watts, Irene. Good-bye Marianne: A Story of Growing Up in Nazi Germany (Tundra Books, 2008). Adapted from novel format, this tale of strength and sacrifice during War WAr II follows Marianne, an eleven year old Jewish girl living in Nazi occupied Berlin in 1938. The images drawn in dark coloured pencil are reminiscent of a child’s artistry.
Yang, Gene Luen. An American Born Chinese (First Second Books, 2006). The Winner of the Michael L. Printz Award is a popular read for both child and adult readers alike. Through three seemingly unconnected short stories, Yang explores racial stereotypes of American perception of Chinese culture through the eyes of a second generation immigrant child of Chinese parents, a monkey king, and a young white American boy and his Chinese cousin. The interwoven themes and message of the three stories explore racism and transformation.