As tweenaged Raina prepared for the growing pains of getting braces while beginning middle school, a surprise fall on a sidewalk knocked out her two front teeth. The autobiographic comic novel Smile by Raina Telgemeier (Graphix, 2010) is her growing-up story. It mixes the discomfort of growing up, the disappointment of changing friendships, and the

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My fifth grader came home from school to tell me about an amazing book her teacher was reading. It was based on real situations (from around the world) and was about a person who lived in a busy city and didn’t have any running water. My daughter was awed that this girl went into a

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The graphic novel Sisters by Raina Telgemeir (Graphix, 2014) is one that tweenage and teenage sisters can certainly relate to. As is often the case, two sisters struggle to get along, specifically while traveling on a long road trip to visit family. The story alternates between the current day (stuck in the car) with when

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Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell (Knopf, 20218) is a delightful romp in a neighborhood full of imaginative children during the course of one summer. This graphic novel shows the stories of more than a dozen children with a variety of unique personalities who live on a couple blocks, and to the discerning reader, it gives

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Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina (Candlewick, 2018) was a great first novel to read this year. Merci’s story of the first half of sixth grade is a sweet, fun, and tender book. It deals with the realities of growing up and watches as Merci comes to a new understanding and place of growth.

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El Deafo by Cece Bell (colored by David Lasky) is a graphic novel that won the Newbery Award in 2015 for its great story. I feel like it’s well deserving for both the story and the illustration, as its graphic nature provides a unique format to tell of the author’s experiences growing up deaf in

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In Julieta and the Diamond Enigma by Luisana Duarte Armendariz (Tu Books, 2020), nine-year-old Julieta is caught in a scandal when she and her father witness the Regent diamond being stolen. When Julieta accidentally lets the thief out of the building and she and her father are suspected, she is determined to free themselves from

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The Cool Code by Deirdre Langeland, illustrated by Sarah Mai (Clarion Books, 2022), is an amusing graphic novel about a formerly homeschooled eighth-grader who creates an app to help her be “cool” in her new school. Zoey enters school worried about how to make friends, and in the end, she finds the true meaning of

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In Nothing is Little by Carmella Van Vleet (Holiday House, 2022), middle schooler Felix begins to come to terms with himself, his place in his family, and his identity as a person. His story is driven by his own search for the identity of his absent father, with “detective work” he hides from his mother

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I did always wonder what the COVID-19 pandemic would have been like from the very beginning, even when no one yet knew what it was in Wuhan, China. I only have my experience, watching the progression of the disease through the world before our own world shut down. Morning Sun in Wuhan by Ying Chang Compestine

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Fairy Tale Comics, edited by Chris Duffy (First Second, 2013) collects a variety of drawing styles and author’s voices into this anthology of 17 different favorite fairy tales. Most of the tales are retellings that young children will be familiar with. A few are more unfamiliar, coming from traditions other than the Brothers Grimm. This

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Ava XOX by Carol Weston (Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2016) continues 11-year-old Ava’s story over the course of her fifth-grade year. I was a bit nervous going into this book because the premise is that Ava begins to have a crush on a boy in her class, and I certainly don’t want my soon-to-be 11-year-old daughter to

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