2013 Finalists: Graphic Novels: Elementary & Middle Grade

Matt Phelan
Candlewick Press
Nominated by: Cathy Potter

Although some readers may not know the story of Buster Keaton, they will quickly become entranced and enthralled with him thanks to the beautiful graphic novel Bluffton: My Summers with Buster. From 1908 to 1938, Muskegon, Michigan was taken over by the premier Vaudevillian actors of the day. This group of screen and stage stars formed the Actors’ Colony, and every summer they would return to the beautiful Bluffton neighborhood to while away the hot days. Eisner award nominated author and illustrator Matt Phelan imagines what it might have been like for a boy, who has grown bored with his small town life, to be drawn into the fun and carefree summer world of Buster and the other actors in the Colony.

Traci Glass
No Flying, No Tights

Barry Deutsch

Nominated by: Robin

Mirka– the 11-year-old, troll fighting, singularly charming Orthodox Jewish girl–appears in her second, even more daring adventure in How Mirka Met a Meteorite, where she has to face a much more dangerous adversary: her own dark side, which manifests as a duplicate of herself. This “copy” is better groomed, more talented, and self-assured, and it means to stay on and obliterate Mirka’s existence. Deutsch and team deliver a humorous and action-packed tale with theatrical facial expressions, effective uses of varied panel designs, and bold strokes and skilled shading techniques.

Roxanne Feldman
Fairrosa Cyberlibrary

John Lewis
Nominated by: 145lewis

The visit of a constituent family from Atlanta to witness the inauguration of President Barack Obama frames this story of Congressman John Lewis’s childhood in Alabama and his involvement as a college student in the civil rights movement. Readers see Lewis preaching to the chickens on his family’s farm and making a difficult choice on whether to integrate an all-white public university near his family’s home. A comic-book account of the Montgomery Bus Boycott inspired Lewis to become an activist in the 1950’s, and Lewis’s graphic-novel memoir will inspire readers to make a difference today.

Lyn Miller-Lachmann
The Pirate Tree

Rob Harrell
Nominated by: Adam (@MrShafferTMCE)

So, you’d love to brag to your cousins far away about the really ferocious monster that lives in the ‘hood, but there’s just one problem — he’s depressed! It’s worse than having your town known as the place with the sports team that always loses — much worse. Because if your monster can’t turn that sniffle into a fireball, and soon, there’s a far worse fate in store for all of you from a creature known only as the Murk. The crazy mixture of times and cultures (including some cockney accents about as authentic as Bert’s in Mary Poppins) turns the campiness to 11, and the art is colorful and clear. Rob Herrell’s Monster is a keeper.

Liz Jones

Nathan Hale
Harry N Abrams
Nominated by: Melissa Fox

Many people have heard of the Donner party’s difficult trip west in the mid 1800s. Nathan Hale has managed to bring this story to life as a graphic novel, somehow managing to make the more distasteful aspects of the story palatable for young readers. And yet, Hale holds nothing back as he turns this story into an engaging page turner. The historical Nathan Hale’s story-loving executioner provides an emotional touchstone for readers, with his sympathy for the animals during the journey. This series continues to be an excellent resource for parents and history teachers both.

Colby Sharp

Jennifer L. Holm
Random House Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Mary Ann Scheuer

Jennifer and Matthew Holm’s Squish 5: Game On! will captivate young readers. In Squish’s latest adventure, he becomes addicted to the video game Mitosis. Game On! might just help a few young readers think deeply about the amount of time they spend with their hands behind a controller.

Colby Sharp

Greg Ruth
Nominated by: Sheila Ruth
Greg Ruth’s Lost Boy is a delightfully spooky romp through a parallel world, in which our main characters, isolated due to life circumstances, find belonging and redemption in two worlds, ordinary and extraordinary. There are many things to love about this graphic novel. The writing is suspenseful, the characters fresh, and the art is beautifully drawn and clear. This may be the first story in which a creepy doll comes to life and turns out to be a good guy. An excellent story for the middle grades, but adult readers will love it as well.

Liz Jones