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Graphic Novels are Great!

The Hot Off the Press Spotlight segment showcases new books from our current Hot Off the Press list to further assist parents, teachers, librarians, booksellers, and other book enthusiasts in finding engaging books for all types of readers.

The CBC member publishers have long published a tremendously exciting and diverse array of graphic novels. Not only are they fun and informative, but they also offer a “vast landscape encompassing an array of genres, styles, and storytelling techniques” (informationmatters.org). They provide numerous literacy tools that benefit both emerging and advanced readers. Often graphic novels are a child’s first foray into independent reading, fueling a life-long love of books of all kinds. Graphic novels improve visual literacy, excite reluctant readers, provide new access to complex and classical texts, and act as both windows and mirrors by featuring a broad and diverse cast of characters. Here are some fantastic new graphic novels from our June Hot Off the Press list.

Brownstone, by Samuel Teer; & illus. by Mar Julia (HarperCollins / Versify) — Coming of Age, Cultural Diversity, Immigrant Experience, Family / Community, Teen.

An exciting teen coming-of-age epic from author Samuel Teer and debut graphic novel artist Mar Julia, Brownstone is a vivid, sweeping, ultimately hopeful story about navigating your heritage even when you feel like you don’t quite fit in.

Almudena has always wondered about the dad she never met.

Now, with her white mother headed on a once-in-a-lifetime trip without her, she’s left alone with her Guatemalan father for an entire summer. Xavier seems happy to see her, but he expects her to live in (and help fix up) his old, broken-down brownstone. And all along, she must navigate the language barrier of his rapid-fire Spanish—which she doesn’t speak.

As Almudena tries to adjust to this new reality, she gets to know the residents of Xavier’s Latin American neighborhood. Each member of the community has their own joys and heartbreaks as well as their own strong opinions on how this young Latina should talk, dress, and behave. Some can’t understand why she doesn’t know where she comes from. Others think she’s “not brown enough” to fit in.

But time is running out for Almudena and Xavier to get to know each other, and the key to their connection may ultimately lie in bringing all these different elements together. Fixing a broken building is one thing, but turning these stubborn individuals into a found family might take more than this one summer.

Camp Prodigy, written & illustrated by Caroline Palmer (Simon & Schuster / Atheneum Books for Young Readers) — LGBTQIA+, Friendships, Art / Performing Arts, Coming of Age, ages 7-12.

Perfect for fans of Victoria Jamieson and Raina Telgemeier, this heartwarming middle grade graphic novel follows two nonbinary kids who navigate anxiety and identity while having fun and forming friendships at their summer orchestra camp.

After attending an incredible concert, Tate Seong is inspired to become a professional violist. There’s just one problem: they’re the worst musician at their school.

Tate doesn’t even have enough confidence to assert themself with their friends or come out as nonbinary to their family, let alone attempt a solo anytime soon. Things start to look up when Tate attends a summer orchestra camp—Camp Prodigy—and runs into Eli, the remarkable violist who inspired Tate to play in the first place.

But Eli has been hiding their skills ever since their time in the spotlight gave them a nervous breakdown. Together, can they figure out how to turn Tate into a star and have Eli overcome their performance anxieties? Or will the pressure take them both down?

The Deep Dark, written & illustrated by Molly Knox Ostertag (Scholastic / Graphix) — Family / Community, LGBTQIA+, Romance, Teen.

Everyone has secrets. Mags’s has teeth.

Magdalena Herrera is about to graduate high school, but she already feels like an adult with serious responsibilities: caring for her ailing grandmother, working a part-time job, clandestine makeouts with a girl who has a boyfriend. And then there’s her secret, which pulls her into the basement each night, drains her of energy, and leaves her bleeding. A secret that could hurt and even kill if it ever got out — like it did once before.

So Mags keeps her head down, isolated in her small desert community. That is, until her childhood friend Nessa comes back to town, bringing vivid memories of the past, an intoxicating glimpse of the future, and a secret of her own. Mags won’t get attached, of course. She’s always been strong enough to survive without anyone’s help.

But when the darkness starts to close in on them both, Mags will have to drag her secret into the daylight, and choose between risking everything… or having nothing left to lose.

The New Girl, written & illustrated by Cassandra Calin (Scholastic / Graphix) — Immigrant Experience, Coming of Age, Humor, ages 7-12.

Goodbye, old life…

Lia and her family are waiting to board a flight across the Atlantic, leaving behind family, friends, and Romania — the only home Lia has ever known. But Lia’s heartache is overshadowed by the discomfort of her first period. As if things weren’t difficult enough! Now Lia is thrust into a world where everything is different: her home, her language, and even her body. With so many changes happening at once, Lia struggles with schoolwork, has trouble communicating with classmates, and has no idea how to manage her unpleasant periods. Will she ever feel like herself again?

Inspired by the author’s own immigration experience, The New Girl is a comically charming story about change and acceptance.

Peculiar Woods: The Mystery of the Intelligents, written & illustrated by Andrés Colmenares (Andrews McMeel Publishing) — Mystery / Thriller, Friendships, Action / Adventure, Series, ages 7-12.

In the second book of the colorful and imaginative Peculiar Woods series, Iggie and friends get to the bottom of the mystery of the Flooded City and team up to discover the fascinating secrets of their enchanted hometown. 

Iggie and friends are back in this second book in the exciting Peculiar Woods series—and not a moment too soon! Iggie’s friend, the curmudgeonly chair Boris, has been kidnapped and taken to the mysterious underground prison beneath the school. With help from Angie, his courageous neighbor and friend, Iggie sets out to rescue Boris but quickly gets caught up in a new series of adventures.

Questions abound: Who are the mysterious “Intelligents” they keep hearing about? What—or who—caused the nearby town to flood? And could the same thing happen to Peculiar Woods? This charming adventure stars two headstrong, determined children and a host of amusing talking objects and features the signature art and humor of Andrés Colmenares, whose work is familiar to millions across the globe.

Rune: The Tale of a Thousand Faces, written & illustrated by Carlos Sánchez (Flying Eye Books) — Fantasy, Action / Adventure, Friendships, ages 7-12.

Venture deep into the forests of Puddin’, a land lost in time and darkness. Filled with dark magic, druids, and dragons Rune: The Tale of a Thousand Faces is the first instalment of this spellbinding new comic series.

Best friends Chiri and Dai stumble into a forgotten realm, tormented by the evil Shadow King who yearns to spread terror and unleash wild magic on everyone. But will these best friends, with the help of the druids, warriors, and magical goats they encounter be able to find their way home? And more importantly, can they evade the darkness that was awoken on their arrival and seal the pathway between worlds before it is too late?

Sink or Swim, by Veronica Agarwal and Lee Durfey-Lavoie; & illus. by Veronica Agarwal (Random House Children’s Books / Random House Graphic) — Mental / Physical Health, Coming of Age, Friendships, Sports / Games / Recreation, ages 7-12.

Summer is here! School’s out, the pool is open, and new adventures with friends await! But what happens when twelve year old Ty’s anxiety has other plans? From the world of Just Roll With It comes a boy-centric graphic novel about accepting yourself even when it’s a little scary.

Bouncing back from a broken arm should be no big deal—but when Ty spends a month off the swim team the thought of getting back in the water is suddenly not as fun as it used to be.

After weeks of ignoring his friends, Ty isn’t sure how to connect with them again in summer camp. They used to have swim team together but after so long without swimming he’s out of shape and afraid of failing in front of them. With his friendships fracturing, will Ty be able to gain confidence in himself and fix everything before it’s too late?

Slice of Mallow Vol. 1, written & illustrated by Adam Foreman (Andrews McMeel Publishing) — Friendships, Action / Adventure, Humor, Series, ages 7-12.

Slice of Mallow is a funny and delightful graphic novel with three bite-sized stories! Dive into Mallow’s world, where Mallow and his friends meet a ghost, visit space, and use a time machine, all complete with an adorable art style and cheeky humor.

Meet Mallow—he’s an excitable yet pessimistic marshmallow in a big world. In this laugh-out-loud funny graphic novel, Mallow goes on three fun, slice-of-life adventures with his friends Pizza, Ghost, Potato, and Doughnut. Readers will love laughing along with Mallow and his antics in this adorable book that’s just right for readers beginning their graphic novel journeys. With bold, colorful art and three bite-sized chapters, this graphic novel based on a popular webcomic will appeal to fans of SpongeBob Squarepants, Adventure Time, and Pizza and Taco.

Zooni Tales: A Friend Till the End, written & illustrated by Vikram Madan (Holiday House) — Animals, Humor, Friendships, Series, ages 4-6.

Loads of laughs and silly gaffes fill this charming early reader graphic novel in rhyme, from a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honoree.

Dog Man meets Dr. Seuss in this fabulously furry young graphic novel that pairs rollicking rhyme with an irresistible pooch.

Kid friendly wordplay makes phonics fun, while charming illustrations follow Zooni through colorful mishaps and dog naps. Never fear! Zooni’s pals are always near. These loyal animal friends stick together through every adventure—from cheese quests to road tests.

Told in three full-length stories and two mini comics, tails will be wagging for this fuzzy, four-legged star. A perfect fit for read alouds and newly independent readers.

For more great book suggestions, be sure to check out the full June Hot Off the Press list!

See our CBC Staff graphic novel picks here!

List compiled by CBC’s resident book connoisseur, Brooke Pisarsky. Check out other Hot Off the Press Spotlight book lists on our blog.

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