Friday, June 22, 2012

Graphic Novels for Kids (?)

One of my very favorite parts of my job as a children's librarian is working on developing the graphic novel collection. What makes this especially fun is that there are so many fantastic authors/artists making incredible books that I think kids can access and relate, but are also thought-provoking and enjoyable for older readers. Here are some of my favorites:

Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

Zita’s life took a cosmic left turn in the blink of  an eye.

When her best friend is abducted by an alien doomsday cult, Zita leaps to the rescue and finds herself a stranger on a strange planet. Humanoid chickens and neurotic robots are shocking enough as new experiences go, but Zita is even more surprised to find herself taking on the role of intergalactic hero. Before long, aliens in all shapes and sizes don’t even phase her. Neither do ancient prophecies, doomed planets, or even a friendly con man who takes a mysterious interest in Zita’s quest.

Zita the Spacegirl is a fun, captivating tale of friendship and redemption from Flight veteran Ben Hatke. It also has more whimsical, eye-catching, Miyazaki-esque monsters than you can shake a stick at
. -Plot summary borrowed from Goodreads

There is not a single thing not to love here. The characters, art, and dialogue are all fantastic and smooth and fun, as well as being smart, full of humor and surprisingly deep. Read this book and just try not to fall in love with Zita.

Robot dreams by Sara Varon

This moving, charming graphic novel about a dog and a robot shows us in poignant detail how powerful and fragile relationships are. After a Labor Day jaunt to the beach leaves the robot rusted, immobilized in the sand, the dog must return alone to the life they shared. But the memory of their friendship lingers, and as the seasons pass, the dog tries to fill the emotional void left by the loss of his closest friend, making and losing a series of friends, from a melting snowman to epicurean anteaters.  But for the robot, lying rusting on the beach, the only relief from loneliness is in dreams. -Plot summary borrowed from Goodreads

If this book doesn't make you bawl, you might be more robotic than the protagonist. Just sayin'. I am amazed by how honest and sad and cathartic and optimistic this book is in terms of relationships.

For something lighter but also about the nature of friendships, check out Bake Sale by the same author.

Copper by Kazu Kibuishi 

Copper is curious, Fred is fearful. And together boy and dog are off on a series of adventures through marvelous worlds, powered by Copper's limitless enthusiasm and imagination.

Each Copper and Fred story in this graphic novel collection is a complete vignette, filled with richly detailed settings and told with a wry sense of humor. These two enormously likable characters build ships and planes to travel to surprising destinations and have a knack for getting into all sorts of odd situations.
-Plot summary borrowed from Goodreads

These characters are so sweet, fun, realistic and funny together that I'd put them right up there with the immortal Calvin and Hobbes. Here's a quick example.

I love everything Kibuishi has done so far. His work is smart, honest, full of wonder, and has that fantastic, rare knack of not talking down to young readers. Like Zita the Spacegirl, the art here has a really great quality, that, not being an art person, I am woefully unequipped to describe. It's.... smooth? Nice? Round? Good colors? Pictures be pretty? I'll stop now.

 I'd also recommend his Flight anthology (for YA/Adult readers), and the younger version, Flight Explorer.


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