Hi y’all! It’s me, Griffin (like the monster), reading your kids’ books so you don’t have to!
So, I read these three graphic novels for young readers, more middle than high school, but rife with adolescent drama: The Dragon Path, by Ethan Young (coming May 18th); Allergic by Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee Nutter; and The Okay Witch and the Hungry Shadow, by Emma Steinkellner (coming July 6th).
In the best tradition of adventure comics like Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo, Young creates a post-apocalyptic worldscape counter to any western tropes, mixing magic, science, and the bizarre to create honorable races competing for land, resources, and a home; filled with the hope that even different species can exist peacefully with mutual respect, and that a damaged world can heal. All that and young Prince Sing rides a giant caticorn through wilderness into battle. What’s not to like? Clear line cartooning and a subtle palate contribute to the otherworldly future without distracting from the action. The Dragon Path is a blast!
Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee Nutter’s Allergic is a very different animal, grounded in reality. Maggie’s problem is as real as it can get: she wants more than anything to have a pet of her own, to snuggle, train, and love. Too bad! Maggie gets allergies instead– great red bumps and torturous itching that makes it IMPOSSIBLE to tolerate any fur or feather. Can’t fault the girl for trying though, and it just gets worse, now her best friend has a snuggly puppy and Maggie can’t even visit. She refuses to be defeated, however, and eventually works out her own salvation! Her life is complex, layered, and relatable and this book is about as full as real life can be!
However, jack that last up to 11, and you get The Okay Witch and the Hungry Shadow! Opening the cover is like popping the tab on a shaken can of soda! So much story, and this is the second of a series. Moth Hush is a witch whose early teen life contains as much passion and drama as the most sincere reader can stand, and, on top of that, a whole ‘nother life of concern in her new status as a witch. Almost dizzying in its multiple strands of passion, ambition, history, courage, and middle school, with a unique magic! I’m gonna go back and read the first one.
These graphic novels offer the best in content, structure, and imagery to feed the emotional machine of middle grade to early teen readers. They’re gonna love ‘em!