Introduction

School’s out for the summer! Dive into these kids graphic novels featuring summer camps, mysteries, and neighborhood hijinks.

Be Prepared

Vera Brosgol

Cover Image

Vera doesn't need to look very hard to see all the reasons that she doesn't fit in. Her single mom doesn't have the money to buy her trendy dolls or clothes that her friends have, she has to cram all of the girls into her small room when she has sleepovers, and all the other girls from school go away to camp every summer, something else her mom can't afford. When Vera hears about a Russian camp at her church, one that the church will help them pay for, she thinks this is her ticket to having something in common with the girls she goes to school with. But Russian camp is not like the summer camps she had heard about from her peers. At Russian camp you speak Russian, learn about Russian history, practice survival skills, stay up throughout the night defending the camp from invaders (the boys' camp), and there is no indoor plumbing. But over the course of the summer, Vera learns a lot about herself and how to make meaningful friendships.

Appeals to

Readers of Svetlana Chmakova and Raina Telgemeier will love this summery slice-of-life story.

Creator Identities:

Russian-American |

Main Character Identities:

Russian-American |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Camp

Kayla Miller

Cover Image

When Olive and her friend Willow go to sleepaway camp, Olive eagerly throws herself into making friends and the camp activities. Willow, however, struggles to fit in with the new campers and clings to Olive, who soon becomes resentful. Can their friendship survive camp?

Appeals to

Readers who like the realistic friendships and colorful art in Roller Girl will enjoy Camp and the other Olive books.

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Long Distance

Whitney Gardner

Cover Image

Not only is Vega dealing with moving from Oregon to Washington and thus leaving her best friend behind, but now her best friend stops talking to her. And to make matters worse, Vega's dads decides that signing her up for summer camp is the best way to get her to make friends. All of Vega's fears seem to come true as things at the camp get weirder and weirder, but when it turns out the answer actually is that it's aliens the adventure kicks off. By the end of it all, Vega not only saves her campmates but also makes a new group of friends.

Appeals to

Long Distance's mix of science fact and fiction is a great choice for readers that like a little fantasy in their fiction, as seen in comics like Jukebox or Living with Viola. There are so many comics that are either heavily fantasy/sci-fi or very set in the real world, it can be hard to find recommendations for kids that want something in-between. I also love that we see Vega's parents in the comic as actual presences with their own worries and struggles, even if that's only on the fringes of the story.

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Shark Summer

Ira Marcks

Cover Image

Gayle's got enough on her plate with an injured arm, possibly ruined baseball career, and her mom trying to open an ice cream business, so the last thing she wants to deal with is a movie crew coming to town and taking things over. But newcomer to town Elijah's enthusiasm and curiosity, plus the prize money for a movie-making competition, pulls Gayle out and learning about Martha's Vineyard's myth of the phantom shark. This leads the two to Maddie, and this unlikely trio learns to trust each other over the summer while making their film. Besides, it's all just stories, there can't be a real ghost, right?

Appeals to

There's horror, there's discussions of film-making, there's local history: this comic's got a little bit of everything. Of course, it is also very much referencing the movie Jaws, so if for some reason there's a middle-grade reader out there who loves that franchise this will be a hit. But the search for the truth brings to mind comics like The Leak, and the supernatural elements can appeal to readers of comics like The Aquanaut. Also worth noting: there is a deaf side character in the adult cast, with signing on page. He's only in one scene, but it was exciting to see nonetheless.

Content Notes

Some fake blood, fake severed limbs, and sharks.

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Shirley & Jamila Save Their Summer

Gillian Goerz

Cover Image

Jamila Waheed agrees to hang out with Shirley Bones so that she can go to the local basketball court instead of science camp. However, she soon finds herself intrigued by the fact that several neighborhood kids visit Shirley for help with various issues, and her eccentric acquaintance (friend?) has a knack for resolving them. When Oliver asks for help finding his missing gecko, Shirley and Jamila find themselves with an exciting mystery that will test their dynamic.

Appeals to

Kids who like stories like Roller Girl and Kayla Miller's Click series might want to give this one a go, especially if they are interested in detective stories! The story does a good job of capturing an eccentric detective in the the vein of Sherlock Holmes while also describing relatable and realistic relationships and situations kids might face.

Content Notes

Brief discussion of childhood cancer and bullying

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Wait Till Helen Comes

Mary Downing Hahn

Meredith Laxton

Cover Image

Adaptations from one format to another can be hit or miss, but this one is an absolute hit. Laxton and Badgett's illustration work adds to the tension and terror of Hahn's story, bringing it to a new generation of kids. It keeps the core story of an unhappy blended family pushed unexpectedly into the country one summer by parents who seem to think this will help. The house and area are immediately creepy, and Molly's bratty stepsister Heather doesn't help matters. Things escalate until Molly ends up saving Heather from a ghost, and the whole family begins the healing process.

Appeals to

Though there is an actual ghost in the story, Wait Till Helen Comes is also very much about how not addressing past trauma can affect our behavior and prevent us from moving forward. As such, it's great for readers that enjoyed stories like Lost Soul, Be At Peace, The Sleepover, or Lighter than My Shadow. The actual ghost elements mean this comic is also a great choice for readers that like to be scared but don't want any super scary monsters or especially terrifying imagery as might be found in Goosebumps or Five Nights at Freddy's. There are bones towards the end of the comic, but they're treated with sympathy rather than fear ultimately.

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Witches of Brooklyn: S'More Magic

Sophie Escabasse

Cover Image

Effie is (reluctantly) off to witchy summer camp where she and her fellow campers learn how to connect to nature and magic. Effie's a bit out of her depth, and that is not just because of her new powers and the dragon!

Appeals to

Readers who enjoy magic-filled adventures such as the Okay Witch and Lumberjanes will enjoy this book in the Witches of Brooklyn series.

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

  • Shannan

    | She/They Teen Services Librarian, San Antonio Public Library

    Features Writer

    Shannan waffled between English professor and librarian as career choices for all of college; eventually librarian won. She is a Teen Services Librarian with the San Antonio Public Library. When not running TTPRG games for their teens or teaching them how to bake, she's doing what she can to promote comics to anyone who will listen. At home they're likely deep in the middle of their latest cosplay project or watching B movies with her husband, while generally pushing the cats out of the way.

    View all posts
  • Tayla

    | She/Her Branch Librarian

    Features Writer

    Tayla Cardillo (she/her) is the Branch Librarian of the Oaklawn branch of the Cranston Public Library in Cranston, RI. She is also a member of the ALA Graphic Novel and Comic Round Table and the chair of the Rhode Island Library Association Intellectual Freedom Committee. She completed her MLIS at the University of Rhode Island and her B.A. in English at Rhode Island College. Tayla has known that she wanted to be a librarian since she was 17 years old. When not doing library wizardry, she enjoys playing tabletop games and cosplaying.

    View all posts
  • Megan

    | She/Her

    Features Writer

    Megan earned her MLIS from Simmons College and is currently the evening librarian at Bay State College in Massachusetts. She satisfies her voracious appetite for graphic novels and manga through regular visits to her local public libraries and puts her love of graphic novels to good use by adding to Bay State’s collection whenever possible. Megan maintains a personal blog, Ferret with a Strobe Light, where she discusses awesome books she’s read lately. When not engaged in reading or library work, she likes running, drinking tea, and working on her own stories and art.

    View all posts
Liked it? Take a second to support us on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!