2018 Graphic Novel Finalists

Elementary/Middle Grade Graphic Novels

Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel
adapted by by Mariah Marsden, illustrated by Brenna Thummler  
Andrews McMeel Publishing
Nominated by: Wendy

Adapting a classic is no easy feat, but Mariah Marsden and Brenna Thummler succeeded marvelously with Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel. The committee loved how much of the story was told through art, with wordless spreads and sequences seamlessly flowing with the text of the original. “Seeing” the natural world surrounding Green Gables as Anne does (in a gorgeous pastel color palette) will make new readers fall in love with her and her surroundings and enchant those who already love the story.

Cecelia Larsen, Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia

Be Prepared
by Vera Brosgol
First Second Books
Nominated by: Kimberley Moran

Socially awkward, self-conscious kids will rejoice to find they are not alone with Vera Brosgol’s semi-autobiographical summer camp tale, Be Prepared. The misery is not over-the-top but instead presented with more complexities and even humor, While all the characters are drawn with great expression, perhaps none are as much as Vera herself, complete with over-sized glasses which accentuate one of her many insecurities and magnify her emotions all the better.

John Mutford, The Book Mine Set

Escape from Syria
by Samya Kullab, illustrated by Jackie Roche
Firefly Books Ltd.
Nominated by: Sandy Brehl

Escape from Syria gives a very personalized account of the Syrian crisis with a balanced approach and art that is deceivingly simple. The topic is timely and while the scenes may be specific, the themes of fear, families, home, and loss are universal. Perhaps as a credit to the author’s journalism background, any sentimentality comes across as genuine and unforced.

John Mutford, The Book Mine Set

Mr. Wolf’s Class
by Aron Nels Steinke
Nominated by: Amanda

It’s no wonder that Mr. Wolf’s fifth grade class feels so real: when he’s not illustrating award-winning comics, Aron Nels Steinke is an elementary school teacher. Charming details about each anthropomorphic character emerge as the story proceeds. Steinke manages to develop full-fledged, complex characters using simple illustrations and precious few words. The first of a series, readers of all ages will devour this delightfully authentic story of the first day of school, told from both teacher and student perspectives.

Maggi Rohde, Mama Librarian

The Cardboard Kingdom
by Chad Sell 
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Nominated by: Adrienne Gillespie

Told in a series of short comics that elegantly weave together, The Cardboard Kingdom reveals the story of one neighborhood, a neighborhood where kids of all backgrounds and personalities can come together, and simple cardboard boxes can become knights and robots, heroes and villains. The Cardboard Kingdom is a fun comic, with a lot of heart, about the power of imagination and friendship. The Cardboard Kingdom touches on some heavy themes, but manages to stay light.

Christa Seeley, Women Write About Comics

The Tea Dragon Society
by Katie O’Neill
Oni Press
Nominated by: Katy Kramp

Greta is training as a blacksmith—a dying art—when she rescues a tea dragon and discovers another tradition in danger of being lost: the care and tending of delicate little tea dragons, who grow tea leaves from their horns. Katie O’Neil’s enchanting graphic novel features an endearing and diverse cast of characters rendered in charming illustrations and a lush color palette. This is a story about facing your fears, discovering your purpose, and dedicating yourself to your calling. And don’t be surprised if you find yourself longing for your very own tea dragon by the end!

Elisabeth Ellington, The Dirigible Plum

The Witch Boy
by Molly Knox Ostertag
Nominated by: Cecelia of Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia

Aster, a thirteen-year-old boy living in a secluded community with strict magical rules, longs to learn practices that are forbidden to boys. Rich, believable characters support this appealing tale of breaking free from traditional gender roles. Ostertag has created a fully-realized magical world that will leave middle-grade and teen readers clamoring for more.

Maggi Rohde, Mama Librarian

Young Adult Graphic Novels

Anne Frank’s Diary: The Graphic Adaptation (Pantheon Graphic Library)
by Anne Frank, adapted by  Ari Folman, illustrated by David Polonsky
Nominated by: Anamaria (bookstogether)

An intimate and immersive graphic novel adaptation, this is a striking way to revisit or introduce the essential piece of history that resonates so strongly to this day. Through Polonsky’s artwork and Folman’s adaptation, we’re shown the Anne Frank whose imagination and dreams helped her get through years in hiding and the universal troubles of being a teen. Anne Frank’s sly and sometimes cruel observations are contrasted with Polonsky’s playful and detailed artwork of her words, and cleverly depict the dual nature many feel about people close to them.

Lexie Cenni, For the Sake of Reading

As the Crow Flies
by Melanie Gillman
Iron Circus Comics
Nominated by: Cecelia of Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia

As the Crow Flies follows Charlie, a queer, black, Christian teenager, who finds herself at an all-white, feminist, Christian youth backpacking camp. This is a beautiful narrative, with stunning coloured pencil landscapes throughout which make it easy to feel like you are hiking alongside Charlie and the other campers. Charlie’s experiences with discomfort and relief, alienation and friendship, faith and doubt, are universal and thought provoking.

Christa Seeley, Women Write About Comics

Grand Theft Horse
by G. Neri and Corban Wilkin (Illustrator)
Lee & Low Books, Inc.
Nominated by: Pat Zietlow Miller

G. Neri’s nonfiction graphic novel Grand Theft Horse tells a true story that is almost too incredible to believe. This tale traces the ups, downs, and everything in between of one woman’s life as she hides her horse from ruthless thoroughbred owners intent on profit over animal wellbeing. True animal lovers, former horse girls, and anyone who enjoys a fantastic yarn will get pulled into the story, and the crusade – it’s engrossing and enjoyable!

Cecelia Larsen, Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia

Hey, Kiddo
by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Nominated by: Julie Williams

Many readers will be familiar with Jarrett Krosoczka’s life story from his popular TED Talk. In his memoir, Hey Kiddo, he fills in the details with moody art and powerful scenes that show the heartbreak of growing up without his parents. Krosoczka’s portrait of his family manages to be honest, yet full of generosity and compassion. Fitting for a book about a young artist, incredible care is given to every detail of the art: even the color choices have sentimental significance. The limited color palette is especially effective in conveying Krosoczka’s emotions and the perspective that comes with time.

Elisabeth Ellington, The Dirigible Plum

On a Sunbeam
by Tillie Walden
First Second Books
Nominated by: Jennifer_Miller_RaiseThemRighteous

Tillie Walden’s gorgeously-illustrated On A Sunbeam tells two stories, interwoven in a complex web of history, mythology, and geography. Walden’s dual narratives feature coming-of-age, love, growth, and families (lost and found), and LGBTQ+, nonbinary, and mute characters. The combination of astonishing art, loveable misfit crew, and literary excellence make this a book to savor.

Cecelia, Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia

by Sebastian Kadlecik (creator), Kit Steinkellner (writer), Emma Steinkellner (artist), Valeria Tranier (translator)
Fanbase Press
Nominated by: Mel Schuit

Quince has something for everyone—romance, action, cultural touchpoints, a mentor you love to love, and a villain too complex to hate. The colorful illustrations are highly accessible to newer comic readers, and though the story originated as a webcomic, it’s seamlessly stitched together to create a memorable superhero story with a latinx heroine and a diversely colored cast of characters.

Mel Schuit, Let’s Talk Picture Books

The Prince and the Dressmaker
by Jen Wang
First Second Books
Nominated by: Jennifer Rummel

The Prince and the Dressmaker appeals to an exceptionally wide range of ages, and there are no books quite like it. Wang deftly maneuvers issues of classism, homophobia, and gender stereotypes to tell a story of friendship and trust, and urges readers to consider their own self worth. The illustrations are bright and feel authentic to the time period of the narrative.

Mel Schuit, Let’s Talk Picture Books