2017 Elementary/Middle Grade Graphic Novels Finalists

by Nidhi Chanani
First Second Books
Nominated by: Flowering Minds

Alternating between rich, vibrant colors and panels in black and white, Nidhi Chanani’s Pashmina is a heartfelt and visually stunning graphic novel about an Indian-American teenage girl named Priyanka. After wrapping herself in a mysterious pashmina that she finds hidden away in a closet, Priyanka is transported to a mythic India of her imagination filled with both light and an subtly encroaching darkness. Her journey uncovers the line between fantasy and reality and helps her understand her heritage as a whole as well as her own family.

Corrina Allen, Books Between Podcast

Real Friends
by Shannon Hale, ilustrated by LeUyen Pham
First Second Books
Nominated by: Becky L.

For anyone who has ever felt like an outsider when trying to make friends, Real Friends is a perfectly relatable book. Shannon Hale’s memoir of her elementary school years not only stands out because it has great storytelling but also because it touches on things that everyone deals with in childhood from bullying to crushes to cliques and of course what actually makes someone a true friend. With gorgeous, full color artwork, this is a book that will have something for just about every reader to love.

Alyssa Feller, The Shady Glade

Suee and the Shadow
by Written by Ginger Ly. Illustrated by Molly Park
Harry N Abrams
Publisher/ Author Submission

Part horror and part mystery, Suee and the Shadow is about Suee, a girl who has transferred to a new school and finds something wrong with a growing number of her classmates. With beautiful graphics and a unique story, Suee and the Shadow sets a creepy mood for a not-too-dark fanstasy. The characters are each different, yet they work together in the end to defeat the evil found within the story.

Kristen Harvey, The Book Monsters

The Big Bad Fox
by Benjamin Renner
First Second Books
Nominated by: Mel Schuit

In this hilarious upper-middle grade graphic novel import, readers meet Fox, who is just trying to get a decent meal. Poor Fox is doomed to starve unless he gets more intimidating. There’s just one problem: Fox finds himself honing his maternal instincts and caring for the baby chicks he was supposed to eat! Hands-down one of the funniest graphic novels of the year, this book stands apart from the rest with watercolor vignettes, providing readers with a fast-paced read that will have them laughing out loud. Fans of the physical humor, wry observations, and wishy washy charm of Charlie Brown will find something to love in the big bad Fox.

Mel Schuit, Let’s Talk Picture Books

The Dam Keeper
by Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi 
First Second Books
Nominated by: Corrina Allen

Full of stunning illustrations, The Dam Keeper, has a more subtle appeal than other middle grade graphic novels. The story moves at a slower pace, but with purpose, as it introduces you to the distinctive personalities of the characters, the sense of responsibility Pig feels about his job maintaining the the dam that protects the town from a deadly fog, and the mystery of the fog itself. Deep thinkers and old souls will love this first installment in a series.

Christa Seeley, Women Write About Comics

Where’s Halmoni?
by Julie Kim
Little Bigfoot
Nominated by: Anamaria (bookstogether)

Gorgeously illustrated and hand lettered, Where’s Halmoni? tells the story of a missing grandma. Noona and Joon go looking for Halmoni through a magic door in the wall, and have amusing adventures with figures from Korean folklore. The children don’t speak Korean, though, and their guesses as to what the rabbit, tiger, fox and goblins are saying make the book even more delightful. Backmatter allows young readers to find out what the animals were really saying, and gives context on the mythical characters. Endpapers let readers know there is more to grandma’s story than meets the eye. Clever and colorful, Where’s Halmoni is a thoroughly enjoyable introduction to Korean culture.

Alysa Stewart, Everead