Comics for kids: Graphic Adaptations

Introduction

Graphic adaptations for kids have been around for a long time, originally as adaptations of traditional classics, then as the middle grade graphics genre exploded with Dav Pilkey and Raina Telgemeier, publishers saw a market to expand the reach of popular series. Some adaptations quickly petered out, like the Percy Jackson or Artemis Fowl titles, adapting just one or two of the books in the series, but some series adaptations have taken on a life of their own. Wings of Fire and Babysitters’ Club are popular not only as spin-offs of their original series but as stories in their own right with fans who may or may not have read the originals. Some one-off adaptations, like Hope Larson’s adaptation of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, are labors of love from creators who want to introduce their own favorites to a new audience. The trend of graphic adaptations shows no sign of slowing down and it can be confusing to choose among the many options out there, not to mention making decisions about binding and backlists. Fortunately, we are here to give you the low-down on the best titles to purchase, preferred bindings, and what is most likely to be popular in your library!

A Wrinkle In Time: The Graphic Novel

Madeline L' Engle

adapted by Hope Larson

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Follow Meg Murray's quest to rescue her father from a dark force in this adaptation of Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time! With a moody blue, black, and white palette, Hope Larson gives readers a faithful adaptation that brings to life the characters' emotions and the science-fiction elements alike.

Appeals to

Adults with fond memories of Meg Murray and the rest of the cast may want to relive their story through the graphic novel. The fact that stays relatively true to the book would make this a great tool to introduce readers to the classic novel.

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Animorphs: The Invasion

K.A. Applegate

Chris Grine

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Rachel, Jake, Cassie, Marco, and Tobias were walking home one night when what seemed like a shooting star fell incredibly close to them, so naturally they had to go see it. What they find instead of a fallen star is a dying alien, and they are embroiled in an interstellar war. With their new abilities as Animorphs, the friends do what they can to understand what's happening and save their friends and family from the alien invasion.

Appeals to

Adults who grew up on the Animorphs books may enjoy picking up the graphic adaptation as a way to re-visit the series or share it with kids in their lives. Kids who enjoy sci-fi graphic novels like Hilo might enjoy this as a slightly more mature story. The comics do not shy away from the horror elements of the original books, so there is some light body horror but it's well done and doesn't feel too heavy-handed.

Content Notes

Minor body horror

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Anne of West Philly: A Modern Graphic Retelling of Anne of Green Gables

Ivy Noelle Weir

Myisha Haynes

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When Anne first arrives, her foster parents, Marilla and Matthew, are not sure whether the exuberant girl is a good fit for their quiet lifestyle. Soon, Anne, Matthew, and Marilla have formed a close-knit family, and Anne is navigating school and friendships in her own, unique way! With vibrant color illustrations a diverse cast, and a warm story, this modern retelling of Anne of Green Gables should not be missed. If librarians find that paperback copies of graphic novels quickly fall apart at their library, there is a hardcover edition!

Appeals to

Readers seeking a heartwarming story about an adoptive family and/or a story featuring smart, passionate female protagonists should pick up Anne of West Philly.

Creator Identities:

Black |

Main Character Identities:

Assumed Black |

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Bea Wolf

Zach Weinersmith

Boulet

Cover Image

Listen! This is the story of a kingdom of children in their tree fort hall, beset by the threat of one particularly awful adult, Grindle! Grindle's joylessness knows no bounds, and he won't let them enjoy life. His attacks on Treeheart are merciless, leading to Bea Wolf's arrival, ready to take this monstrous man down.

Appeals to

This is a delightful read for adults familiar with the original story of Beowulf, and likely are who the interesting essay in the back about how the comic was made is for. The essays can also serve as instruction in the classroom since they talk a bit about Old English and language, how comics work, and other fun topics. Bea Wolf is also a great pick for kids who enjoy a challenging read or comics with dynamic, funny visuals because there's merit in reading this one while focusing on the art rather than the words. Bea Wolf is a comic someone could start reading as a kid and keep re-reading over time, getting something new each time.

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Dragon Kingdom of Wrenly

Jordan Quinn

Glass House Graphics

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Ruskin, a popular dragon character from Quinn's long-running Kingdom of Wrenly series, stars in his own graphic novel spin-off. Previously a pet of the Prince of Wrenly, Ruskin sets out on his own adventures to battle villains and save the kingdom with the encouragement of new friends and allies, including other dragons.

Appeals to

This will appeal to fans of the original print series, but even more to young dragon fans in general, especially those not ready to tackle Wings of Fire. The reading level of these books is an intermediate or beginning chapter book, appealing most to 2nd-3rd graders. It's not necessary to read the original print series, and librarians who don't want to venture into a twenty-volume, traditional fantasy will do just fine purchasing this series on its own. The paperback bindings are sturdy, but the books are available in hardcovers if desired.

Recommended by

Jennifer Wharton

Enola Homes: The Graphic Novel

Serena Blasco

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Based on the novels by Nancy Springer, this series follows Sherlock Holmes's younger sister Enola as she tries to chart her chart her own path as a detective and find her missing mother. When Enola's mother disappears on her 14th birthday and not even the illustrious Sherlock Holmes can not crack the case on where she went, her two older brothers decide the best course of action is to send Enola to boarding school. To avoid a fate of corsets, ringlets, and finishing lessons, Enola steals off to London on her own to become a "perditorian" -- the one who divines that which is lost.

Appeals to

Fans of a fierce female sleuth like Goldie Vance will love reading about Enola's adventures.

Content Notes

Mild Violence

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Graystripe's Adventure

Erin Hunter

James L. Barry

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Back in the days of Tokyopop and about five years after the publication of the first Warriors books, the creators and publishers capitalized on the popularity of manga, and a seemingly endless fantasy series about feral cats, to create a number of original English language manga spin-offs. Fast forward about twenty years and Warriors still continues to regularly pop out new adventures of the charismatic cats and the creators have also branched out into multiple other animals. The original Warriors books (and manga) are a staple of many adult's beloved childhood reading and while Tokyopop is no more, HarperCollins has revived and republished the manga spin-offs, now in color. Like anything involved with the Warriors series, it's a little tricky to track down the exact titles, but thankfully the most current editions are now available in collected volumes and in prebound editions, very necessary if you are purchasing the colorized editions.

Appeals to

Warriors fans, of course, will devour these - both those revisiting their childhood favorites and the new generation discovering the addicting series for the first time. The manga, which all consist of short stories spun off from the main books, can also be read as stand-alone by comic fans of animals and fantasy who don't want to tackle the original books.

Recommended by

Jennifer Wharton

Heroes in Training

Joan Holub

Glass House Graphics

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This adaptation of Holub and Williams' popular myth-based fantasy starts with Zeus as a boy, going on adventures and getting into trouble, and adds a healthy dose of magic, excitement, and age-appropriate humor. David Campiti adapts an adventure of the (male) Greek heroes in each volume, offering readers an opportunity to revisit a favorite series or discover it for the first time.

Appeals to

Readers who were into the original series, published from 2018 to 2021, have almost certainly moved on to more complex titles. However, new readers who are eager to find a myth-based fantasy on their reading level will be pleased to discover a graphic novel edition on offer. This is strictly for beginning and intermediate readers as it offers little nuance and the main draw, outside of the fast-moving plot, is the heavy dose of Dav Pilkey-style humor.

Recommended by

Jennifer Wharton

I survived the Great Chicago Fire, 1871

Lauren Tarshis

Cassie Anderson

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I Survived, a historical fiction series focused on various disasters, was first published in 2010. It took a few years to take off but quickly became a staple of classrooms and chapter book collections. The books are short and packed with action, and the historical events, usually told from the perspective of white male and occasionally female characters, are realistic enough to be dramatic without focusing on any truly uncomfortable or gruesome aspects of history. In 2020, Graphix started producing graphic adaptations of the books in order of their publication, starting with the first and arguably most popular, I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic, 1912. It's difficult to find accurate information on who adapted each book and the illustrators vary from title to title. From a literary and historical standpoint, these aren't particularly notable and most librarians will prefer to steer readers to the more historically accurate and inclusive Girls Survive or Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales. However, a major reason for the existence of graphic adaptations of popular series is, quite simply, that they're popular. Kids reluctant to pick up a book will devour these and with the rapid growth of graphic novels for young readers they will naturally look for a comic version of their favorites. Regardless of the actual quality, most librarians will want to have these on hand, preferably in prebound editions.

Appeals to

Reluctant and struggling readers and fans of the original series. Although the length of the books implies beginning chapters, even sanitized, the graphic novels do depict historical disasters and most libraries will want to recommend them to third-grade and up, or middle-grade readers.

Recommended by

Jennifer Wharton

Magic Tree House

Mary Pope Osborne

Kelly Matthews

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Readers who grew up with Magic Tree House are unlikely to feel interested in revisiting the series, but new readers hungry for graphic novels will be delighted to have a graphic novel version of the popular beginning chapter series available. The adaptation is faithful to the original series, illustrating the adventures of Jack and Annie as they travel through time and space in the Magic Tree House.

Appeals to

Beginning chapter readers who are also graphic novel fans are the primary audience for this adaptation. Really serious fans might enjoy revisiting Jack and Annie's adventures in graphic format, but most will be content with choosing their preferred reading material and sticking with that, for as many titles as are currently available.

Recommended by

Jennifer Wharton

Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy

Rey Terciero

Bre Indigo

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In this modern retelling of Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy want their father to come back from the Middle East. In the meantime, the sisters all have their personal journeys to take...with the help of their sisters, of course! Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy maintain the close sibling dynamic so central to the original novel while updating the setting and some of the characters' arcs. With vibrant illustrations and a focus on a multiracial family, this fresh new take will help the Little Women's story find a new audience!

Appeals to

Readers seeking strong stories about siblings should pick this one up. Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy will also interest readers looking for thoughtful stories about families confronting illness, injury and exploring queer identity.

Content Notes

This story includes racist comments and portrayals of cancer treatment; in both cases, the characters are supported in dealing with these things.

Creator Identities:

Black, Latinx |

Gay |

Agender |

Main Character Identities:

Black, Multiracial |

Lesbian |

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Mr. Corbett is in orbit

Dan Gutman

Jim Paillot

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Fans of the long-running My Weird School will be thrilled with an all-new graphic novel version. Featuring all the jokes, goofy adults, and silly situations of the original series, the graphic novels add full-color illustrations. Readers will be excited to see A. J. and his friends from Ella Mentry School in a new medium and handling an even more ridiculous crisis.

Appeals to

Fans of the original My Weird School series and its multiple spin-offs will be quick to grab this new series off the shelf. Die-hard graphic novel fans who have resisted trying the original series are more likely to be willing to tackle this more heavily illustrated version as well.

Recommended by

Jennifer Wharton

Sea Sirens

Amy Chu

Janet Lee

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L. Frank Baum, author of the Oz books, wrote many spin-offs but most have (justly) faded into the mists of time. Amy Chu and Janet Lee have managed to take the inspiration of two rather twee characters and create an exuberant and fantastical adventure that overshadows the original. Vietnamese-American Trot and her one-eyed cat, Cap'n Bill, find themselves transported into a fantastic but dangerous underwater world with gorgeous art, exciting adventures, and a contemporary twist of family issues. These are most likely to be of use to libraries with large graphic novel collections who are looking for more variety and diversity in their fantasy offerings.

Appeals to

This will appeal most to kids who like light fantasy comics, not lengthy epics, including fans of Hildafolk, Oz graphic novel adaptations, and Pico's Aster.

Creator Identities:

Vietnamese American |

Main Character Identities:

Vietnamese American |

Recommended by

Jennifer Wharton

Super Turbo

Edgar Powers

Glass House Graphics

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Readers can now follow the wacky adventures of Super Turbo and his class pet sidekicks in graphic novel format. The original series, a mix of text and black and white comic panels is reworked with expanded color illustrations and text adapted primarily as dialogue.

Appeals to

Kids who enjoy goofy adventures but aren't ready for middle-grade titles like Dog Man will be happy with this series. Librarians looking to expand their beginning chapter offerings with a variety of formats will want to consider purchasing the color graphic novels instead of the original, black and white titles.

Recommended by

Jennifer Wharton

The Baby Sitter's Club

Ann M. Martin

Raina Telgemeier

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Adapting the well-known series by Ann M. Martin, The Baby-Sitter's Club graphic novels follow the exploits of Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacey, the founding members of the Baby-Sitter's Club as they deal with juggling babysitting gigs, middle school, and family drama. Through it all, the Baby-Sitter's Club has each other!

Appeals to

Older readers looking to revisit a childhood favorite and younger fans of some of the graphic novel giants that have worked on the adaption like Raina Telgemeier and Chan Chau will find something to love here.

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

The Dragonet Prophecy

Tui Sutherland

Mike Holmes

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Tui Sutherland knows what kids like, and her wildly popular Wings of Fire fantasy series was a no-brainer to adapt into a graphic novel series. That continuing adaptation, with a seventh book slated for release in 2024, is as popular as the original series, and ardent fans eagerly devour both formats. The graphic adaptation, supervised by the author herself, is faithful to the original plots, fleshing out the colorful dragons, their adventures, wars, families, and friendships with colorful art and brisk dialogue. Librarians with a significant population would do well to purchase these in replaceable prebinds as the heavy use and slick pages limit their shelf life in paperback or hardcover.

Appeals to

While this graphic adaptation will appeal to fantasy comic lovers, and some kids prefer to stick with the comics and pass over the original text books, the main audience is Wings of Fire fans. These are often voracious readers and will reread the original books and adaptations over and over again while waiting for a new installment. Many of these fans cross over with the Warriors series (which also includes graphic adaptations), and that's no coincidence as Sutherland is an editor and occasional author for that long-running franchise as well. These are also a must-have for reference in Wings of Fire-based programming and inspiration for young dragon artists.

Recommended by

Jennifer Wharton

The Giver

Lois Lowry

P. Craig Russell

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Jonas lives in a community that many might be tempted to call utopian; everyone is happy, people do fulfilling work to keep the community happy and well, and children are cared for. When Jonas is given the job assignment of Receiver of Memory though, he starts to question the world he grew up in and whether it actually is so perfect.

Appeals to

While I don't think graphic adaptations should be read instead of the original for the purpose of school assignments, I do think that this adaptation works really well to help readers understand this very visual story and could be used as a partner text. Otherwise, this is a fantastic way to experience the story of The Giver for someone curious about this classic, because Russell's work on the art truly gives weight to the story beats.

Content Notes

Infant death, depictions of war

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

The Lightning Thief

Rick Riordan

Attila Futaki

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The Lightning Thief had been out and about for about 5 years when the first graphic novel adaptation appeared. This was a simple adaptation of a popular property, much like the original film adaptation, created mostly as a bonus for fans and to extend the series' popularity. However, as Riordan's work has continued and expanded, the quality of the adaptations of this series and the Rick Riordan Presents imprint has improved and this original title is slated to be "refreshed" and rereleased in the fall of 2023, coinciding with a new Percy Jackson adventure and the release of a new streaming adaptation.
Whether librarians will want to purchase the new edition depends on their Rick Riordan fans; are they eager for anything connected to the original series or happy to move on to the new worlds (and comics) of Rick Riordan presents like Tristan Strong and Aru Shah? If added, it would be well to wait for a prebound edition to be available as the slick pages of the original did not hold up well to even light use.

Appeals to

Fans of the original Percy Jackson series, spin-offs, and related titles.

Recommended by

Jennifer Wharton

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

L. Frank Baum

Skottie Young

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Whether or not kids have ever read the original Oz books, Shanower and Young's adaptation, filled with weird characters, truly creepy villains, and all the original flavor of Baum's work, still finds an audience. While staying true to the episodic nature of the originals, Shanower smoothly connects the stories and transfers the prose into comic dialogue while Young's atmospheric art will surprise readers expecting a cute little fantasy world. The original collections are out of print, but the individual-bound issues can still be purchased through prebind publishers like ABDO. The creators adapted the first six Oz books, ending with The Emerald City of Oz.

Appeals to

Middle-grade readers looking for something different, who enjoy quirky fantasy and strong female characters will be happy to pick this up. Hand it also to readers who like a little bit of the creepy in their comics as well as very dry humor.

Recommended by

Jennifer Wharton

Comics for Kids: Summertime

Introduction

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

Be Prepared

Vera Brosgol

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

Comics for Kids: Manga

Introduction

Manga is more and more popular amongst young people, but there is so much less published in America for kids then for teens and adults. Here’s a roundup of manga for kids to add to your collection or to check for which volumes to replace!

Anne of Green Gables

L. M. Montgomery

Kuma Chan

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This classic story of a girl growing up has been beautifully adapted into manga format. Anne Shirley, a precocious orphan girl, was sent to the Cuthberts’ home of Green Gables by accident. The Cuthberts, siblings Marilla and Matthew, were hoping to adopt a boy to help around the farm, but they got Anne instead, a girl full of imagination and spunk. Readers will fall in love with Anne's outgoing, bubbly personality, and root for her to achieve her dreams despite the gender roles and stereotypes she is up against.

Appeals to

Fans of the classic novel

Recommended by

Sara Smith

Ascendance of a Bookworm

Miya Kazuki

In a past life, a bookworm is crushed to death by her beloved books, and she finds herself reincarnated into the body of a very young, very frail, little girl in a world still in its Middle Ages. Parchment is rare and expensive, and almost no one is taught how to read. All she wants in her new life is to be able to read a book, but the rarity of the items and skills makes this a very daunting task for young Myne. Through her adventures of recreating clay tablets and papyrus, to her training for one of the few professions that require reading books, Myne learns to appreciate the people in her new life, as well as some other things that are not books. Myne is a sweet character that readers can connect with and root for, even though the odds are horribly stacked against her.

Appeals to

Bookworms, fans of fantasy manga

Recommended by

Sara Smith

Cardcaptor Sakura

CLAMP

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Sakura is a 4th grader who loves sports and hanging out with her best friend Tomoyo, who dresses her up in custom-made outfits. She also is a magical girl, bound to capture all of the Clow cards that have escaped and are causing mischief. When not stopping flower hurricanes or sneaking into museums to steal paintings, she's helping out around the house and sorting out her feelings about her brother's friend, Yukito. All in a day's work for a magical girl!

Appeals to

While the covers are very flowery, and the art tends towards frilly, the story covers adventures of creative thinking, ghosts, and magical creatures. There's humor, but also darkness, and the magic is just cool, so this appeals to any reader looking for a more fashionable adventure story or a romance story that also has feats of derring-do.

Content Notes

There is a subplot that implies a teacher is dating one of his students, and significant age gaps in relationships, in general, are seen. Also, the main character's mother is deceased, for readers sensitive to that topic.

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Cells at Work: Baby

Yasuhiro Fukuda

A spin-off of the original Cells at Work series, this one focuses on cells inside a baby's body. We open up on the tiny cells receiving oxygen deliveries from the mother's cells, but tremors throughout the building announce the birthing process has started. Once the baby is on its own, the series goes through how the mother continues to support the baby cells, like transferring immunity-boosting information through milk. The baby cells have to learn how to do their jobs and keep their body alive, but it's amazing how much information these cells all seem to have, all from genetic coding passed down from the parents! There is a lot of scientific information in this series, so this would be awesome for readers who want a primer on how the body works. Just like Cells at Work, the body is presented as a large factory, so no actual body parts are shown as the cells navigate the "hallways" and built-in bureaucracy of navigating their tasks.

Appeals to

Readers who are interested in science, biology, and the human body. It's also extremely funny, so fans of humor manga will also appreciate this (and maybe learn some science along the way).

Recommended by

Sara Smith

Chi's Sweet Home

Kanata Konami

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Chi is a rambunctious kitten, as her adoptive family (young son, mother, and father) quickly finds out when they add her to their no-pets apartment. Her random antics in and out of their abode will have readers either recognizing their own cat or feeling relieved Chi is not their responsibility.

Appeals to

Cat lovers, pet lovers

Content Notes

There is one instance of mild adult language, but this is otherwise suitable for all ages

Recommended by

Thomas Maluck

Dinosaur Hour!

Hitoshi Shioya

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Lots of dinosaur facts and short dramas between dinosaurs with lots of jokes and eating each other.

Appeals to

Fans of dinosaurs and silly jokes.

Recommended by

Martha Boksenbaum

Fluffy, Fluffy Cinnamonroll

Yumi Tsukirino

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Cinnamoroll is a very special puppy who can fly by flapping his long ears. He lives at a sweet shop called Café Cinnamon and loves to hang out with his puppy friends. Together, they have lots of whimsical adventures!

Appeals to

Fans of puppies and cute things; readers who want sweet, feel-good adventures

Recommended by

Nic Willcox

Flying Witch

Chihiro Ishuzuka

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When Makoto moves in with some relatives in a new city, she learns her way around town as well as how to handle magic in this gentle slice of life that includes a talking cat.

Appeals to

Young witches in training, enjoyers of Japanese culture, cat lovers

Recommended by

Thomas Maluck

Giant Spider and Me

Kikori Morino

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This is the sweetest story full of potential but not actually messy ingredients. The giant spider is more like a teddy bear. The POV protagonist, Nagi, lives on her own in a post-apocalyptic world, but the focus of the story is about how she gets by and the food she prepares for herself. An inventive setting within the slice of life genre.

Appeals to

Fans of post-apocalypse stories, cooking, giant pets, survival

Content Notes

A character points a rifle at the spider in the third volume

Recommended by

Thomas Maluck

Hana-chan and the Shape of the World

Ryotaro Ueda

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Buckle up for Hana's adventures in her small town! From quests for rations in the middle of a typhoon to robots in a field, this collection of short adventures will delight and befuddle you.

Appeals to

Readers who enjoy the whimsy of Studio Ghibli movies and Yotsuba's absurd humor may want to check this out.

Content Notes

There are a couple of scary parts that may be unnerving for some readers. There is a section where characters are drawn with monstrous features. There's also one set in an old, abandoned house where there's a futon with dark stains; it's not clear if there's actually blood. Neither part goes into full-on horror though.

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Hikaru no Go

Yumi Hotta

Takeshi Obata

Cover Image

Sixth-grader Hikaru is haunted by the ghost of an ancient Go player who wants Hikaru to find skilled opponents in the timeless board game. Hikaru becomes interested in the game, and in the process, he includes making a name for himself in a gaming scene replete with colorful characters and competitive egos.

Appeals to

Gamers, fans of intense rivalries

Recommended by

Thomas Maluck

Kirby Manga Mania

Hirokazu Hikawa

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Kirby, Nintendo's videogame and cartoon mascot, stars in his very own manga! Kirby is a pink puffball who can inhale an astounding amount of matter and use all kinds of abilities. Kirby and the extended cast from the games, including many anthropomorphic animals and unique creatures, get into chaotic adventures from chapter to chapter. Slapstick, sight gags, and funny faces are stuffed into each page.

Appeals to

The endlessly silly, Nintendo fans, Saturday morning cartoon addicts

Recommended by

Thomas Maluck

Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time

Akira Himekawa

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Young hero Link must master magical weapons and tools, defeat monsters, and save the kingdom of Hyrule. This series includes two 2-volume stories and six stand-alone adventures, each based on one of the Legend of Zelda video games. This volume is a reissue that combines the first two books: Ocarina of Time Part 1 and Ocarina of Time Part 2.

Appeals to

Fans of video games, fans of classic swords-and-sorcery-type fantasy

Content Notes

There is violence, as Link fights a lot of monsters.

Recommended by

Nic Willcox

Plum Crazy!

Hoshino Natsumi

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Plum is a cat with eyes readers will get lost in. Her family (a single mother with a teenage son) adopts a new kitten, Snowball, and jealousy ensues. Plum is friends with several neighborhood cats, each an example of different cat behaviors, and the humans are loving cat caregivers.

Appeals to

Cat lovers, pet lovers

Recommended by

Thomas Maluck

Pokemon Adventures

Hidenori Kusaka

Mato N/A

Cover Image

Pokémon are amazing creatures with all kinds of abilities, and many people keep them as pets or assistants. Others train Pokémon to battle each other, competing to be the strongest. This long series - really a collection of connected series - follows various trainers as they raise and learn about Pokémon, befriend other trainers, and battle criminals who would use the creatures for evil.

Note: If the whole series is too intimidating, there are several stand-alone Pokémon volumes based on the movies. Look for any manga that includes "Pokémon: The Movie" in its title.

Appeals to

Fans of video games, fans of fantasy action, and battle scenes

Content Notes

Pokémon fight. A lot. Some of the battles in the manga - especially early volumes - are more brutal than fans of the video games and movies might expect.

Recommended by

Nic Willcox

Sue and Tai-chan

Konami Kanata

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Sue is an older cat who wants a calm life, but it's not to be when Tai-Chan enters the household. This sweet story is full of cute and funny kitty antics and is a great intro to the manga format for kids.

Appeals to

Animal lovers and fans of slice of life stories.

Recommended by

Martha Boksenbaum

Witch Hat Atelier

Kamome Shirahama

Cover Image

Coco lives with her mother and dreams of being a witch. One day, she stumbles upon the secret of magic and accidentally turns her mother into a stone statue! She's taken in by Qifrey, a master witch, and joins his Atelier with three other students, and hopes to learn enough magic to change her mother back. But, there's something different about Coco, and the world of magic is not as bright and shiny as Coco once thought. The art is exceptionally beautiful and detailed, with lots of full-page splashes and some two-page spreads that captivate and pull readers into this rich world. The mystery of how magic might be different and dark is hinted at throughout and tantalizing, so readers will keep going, hoping to get to the bottom of this mystery.

Appeals to

Fans of fantasy, magic, adventure stories, and complex worlds

Recommended by

Sara Smith

Yotsuba&!

Kiyohiko Azuma

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When Yotsuba moves to a new neighborhood, she immediately wanders off only to create a massive misunderstanding with her new neighbors who just want to help her get home After that impressive introduction, each volume takes the reader through Yotsuba's further adventures. From broken locks to trips to the zoo, and more, Yotsuba's adventures will have you grinning and laughing.

Appeals to

In addition to a spirited lead with a great supporting cast and tons of quirky adventures, Azuma has a knack for portraying the story and characters in a way that is funny to both kids and adults. As a result, this is truly a graphic novel that will appeal to all ages. Give this to kids who are looking for wacky, slice-of-life hijinks!

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Comics for Kids: Adventure

Introduction

Kids can leap into an adventure from this list of comics created by the No Flying, No Tights Features Team! From travels through space and time to fantastical journeys to a swashbuckling chase, there is something for everyone.

Cleopatra in Space

Mike Maihack

In this action-packed science fiction adventure, teenaged Cleopatra--future ruler of Egypt--finds a tablet and gets transported to a world where she discovers she’s the chosen one to save the universe.

Appeals to

Readers who like witty protagonists, cute kitties, and science fiction action!

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6517
Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Compass South

Hope Larson

Rebecca Mock

Cleopatra and her twin brother Alex have been struggling since their father disappeared, going so far as to fall in with a local thief gang. When Cleo and Alex decide to skip town, they get separated and their furious gang leader teams up with a group of pirates who want the watch and knife the twins have always had. What follows is a chase full of swashbuckling, sailing, and new friendships!

Appeals to

Fans of stories about pirates like Treasure Island or Pirates of the Caribbean

Content Notes

A brief death scene and some violence

Creator Identities:

  • Sexuality: 7031
Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Cucumber Quest

Gigi D.G.

Cucumber is all set to set off to magic school when his dad sends a letter asking him to save the kingdoms from the evil queen Cordelia. Unfortunately, Cucumber isn't interested in being a hero: he wants to be a magician. Thankfully his sister Almond, who is in training to become a knight, sneaks off to join him. Together, they're working to stop Cordelia when not dealing with bizarre villains and situations of miscommunication.

Appeals to

Perfect for fans of comedic adventure series like Catstronauts, Cardboard Kingdom, or Adventure Time.

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Dungeon Critters

Natalie Ross

A dog, a cat, a frog who is also a prince, and a beefy snake man go on a D&D-esque dungeon crawl that like any good adventure leads to side-quests and hijinks, like sneaking into a fancy party, fighting a giant turtle on a river boat, and being honored guests at a royal event.

Appeals to

Young fantasy TTRGP players will fall in love with this story that has all the elements of a great D&D campaign. Fans of Amulet and the Hilda series will also love this title filled with magic, adventure, and friendship.

Creator Identities:

  • Sexuality: 7031

Main Character Identities:

  • Sexuality: 5363, 5366
  • Gender Identity: 6038
Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Hereville

Barry Deutsch

Mirka is a smart, impulsive girl who wants to slay dragons rather than knit and do her other chores. All she needs is a sword, and a witch's favor gives her the opportunity to get one. Getting a sword, however, is just the beginning of Mirka's adventures!

Appeals to

Fans of smart, snarky protagonists

Main Character Identities:

  • Religion: Jewish
Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Hilda and the Troll

Luke Pearson

There are many things Hilda is great at; one of them is not sitting quietly at home. So on one of her many adventures in the wilds around her home, Hilda encounters a troll during the day, while it's still stone. Naturally she decides it's the perfect chance to sketch one, only to fall asleep and wake up in the middle of a snowstorm. Follow Hilda as she gets to know a wooden man, avoids getting stepped on by a lost giant, and of course, makes it back home to her mum.

Appeals to

Fans of The Owl House and other series featuring a fearless adventurer discovering the wonders of the world around her.

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Lightfall

Tim Probert

Bea loves working in her grandfather’s potions shop in the woods. When her frequently forgetful grandfather vanishes, Bea is determined to find him and joins forces with Cal, a Galdurian on a quest to also find his family. Get ready for a fantasy adventure full of humor and heart!

Appeals to

Fans of richly portrayed fantasy stories such as Amulet and 5 Worlds

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

No One Returns from the Enchanted Forest

Robin Robinson

Bix is constantly worrying over her younger sister Pella; their parents are gone, and their underground goblin community is experiencing numerous challenges thanks to the earthquakes and other disasters that plague their island. When the latest earthquake disrupts their annual festival, Pella heads into the enchanted forest to give the legendary Earth Queen a piece of her mind. Bix follows Pella into the dangerous forest to rescue her but soon finds her quest becoming bigger than she could have imagined.

Appeals to

Fans of fantasy quests; Lovers of the adventure and quest for justice aspects of 5 Worlds and Avatar the Last Airbender

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Pashmina

Nidhi Chanani

Priyanka has never been to India, and she’s never met her dad. Yet her mother refuses to discuss her life before she arrived in the United States. When Priyanka puts on a pashmina she found in an old suitcase, she sees a beautiful vision of India. More determined than ever, Priyanka journeys to India to get the answers she has so desperately wanted.

Appeals to

Readers who like a bit of fantasy in their realistic fiction; readers who like stories featuring well-written female protagonists

Content Notes

Brief discussion of unwanted male attention, exploitation, and poverty but nothing is graphic

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6832

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6004
Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Red Panda and Moon Bear

Jarod Roselló

Cardillo

Siblings Red Panda and Moon Bear, equipped with their super-powered sweatshirts and their wits fight evil, solve mysteries, and protect their neighborhood. Their crime fighting adventures include adopting two stray dogs (who may not actually be dogs), finding a building that mysteriously disappeared from their block, and helping a ghost trapped in their local library.

Appeals to

Readers who are look for a superhero story that doesn't take itself too seriously. A great title to put in the hands of readers while they wait for the next Dog Man book to come out.

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6765

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 5888, 5356
Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

The Time Museum

Matthew Loux

Budding scientist Delia is a candidate for an internship at the Earth Time Museum, a museum that catalogues the Earth in the past, present, and future. However, an encounter with a renegade time traveler threatens Delia’s chances (and the Library of Alexandria)! Can Delia and her new friends still pull off a win?

Appeals to

Fans of Cleopatra in Space

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

This Was Our Pact

Ryan Andrews

Ben and his friends want to know where all the lanterns go once they are sent floating down the river during the Autumn Equinox Festival, so he and his friends decide that they are going to follow the lanterns down the river farther then they've ever gone in order to find out what happens to them. No looking back. Not long into their journey all the boys, expect outcast Nathaniel, abandon their quest for taco night and the light of home. The two remaining boys encountering interesting characters and travel to breathtaking places during their journey to find the answer to the mystery of the lanterns.

Appeals to

Fans of Studio Ghibli films or the Chronicles of Narnina will love this tale of two ordinary kids who go on a fantastical adventure.

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Witch Hat Atelier

Shirahama Kamome

Though Coco is fascinated by witches and magic, she knows she'll never be one because everyone says magic is hereditary and she hasn't shown any signs of using it. After a tragic encounter with magic, Coco now finds herself apprenticed to Qifrey, joining four other young apprentices learning magic because maybe what everyone says isn't true. Now, she has a lot to learn about her new world and friends.

Appeals to

A fantastic choice for fans of epic adventure series like Amulet and adventures with characters being thrown into a world they're not used to, like The Witch Boy.

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Comics for Kids: Friendship

Introduction

Babymouse

Jennifer Holm

Matthew Holm

Cover Image

Babymouse goes to school, deals with popularity and bullies, but also adventure! She's got imagination and big dreams of being the most popular girl in school, and of the whole world!

Appeals to

Fans of realistic fiction with a touch of imagination.

Recommended by

Martha Boksenbaum

Cardboard Kingdom

Chad Sell

Cover Image

Neighborhood kids transform their ordinary backyards into fantasy worlds where they can be anyone they'd like to be. Join them as they save the world as well as their friendships, and through play learn a bit more about who they want to be in the read world.

Appeals to

Fans of Amulet and Smile, titles about friendship and adventure.

Recommended by

Martha Boksenbaum

Click

Kayla Miller

Cover Image

Olive is friends with many of the people in her class, but when her class hosts a talent show, everyone else has already paired up! Can Olive figure out a way to keep her friendships and still shine? Click and its sequels are charming reads with a charming, gregarious main character and lovely colorful art.

Appeals to

Readers looking for a good slice of life story; readers who want to read about conflicts that aren’t necessarily about being different or bullying

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

FriendBots

Vicky Fang

Cover Image

Block and Blink are two new robot friends looking for treasure, but have different ways of going about it. Join them as they scan for hidden gems and discover what a true treasure is.

Appeals to

This is part of the "I Can Read Comics" easy reader series, and Blink and Block will make an appealing new team to start in a series. More and more easy readers are including the comics format, and this is a solid entry for new readers who also enjoy learning the language of comics.

Recommended by

Robin B.

Haylee and Comet

Deborah Marcero

Cover Image

Haylee spends all her time making wishes whenever the opportunity presents itself -- so imagine her surprise when wishing on a falling star for friend results in a comet falling to earth who had exactly the same wish!

Appeals to

This is the beginning of a new easy reader graphic novel series, and the colorful artwork and themes of friendship will delight new readers.

Recommended by

Robin B.

Making Friends

Kristen Gudsnuk

Cover Image

Danielle is starting a new middle school for seventh grade, and friendships are rough when everything is different. When she inherits a notebook from her aunt she draws her ideal best friend in it-only to have her come to life! At first she thinks this is great and makes more friends, until her new best friend starts to have ideas of her own...can she control the friends she has made?

Appeals to

Fans of realistic fiction like Smile and Real Friends but also surreal stories like Apocalypse Taco and Snapdragon.

Recommended by

Martha Boksenbaum

Monster Friends

Kaeti Vandorn

Cover Image

After a bit of a scary experience, one small, timid monster is happy to stick to what's familiar. What's a monster to do when a talkative, exuberant new friend strikes up a conversation?

Appeals to

This title for younger readers is a sweet exploration of coming out of your shell and keeping up with new, different-from-you friends.

Recommended by

Robin B.

Narwhal and Jelly

Ben Clanton

Cover Image

Narwhal and Jelly are the best of friends. Narwhal is happy and upbeat, while Jelly is a cranky jellyfish. They play superheroes together, make new friends together and love waffles together.

Appeals to

Young readers who enjoy the Elephant and Piggie or the Pig in a Wig books.

Recommended by

Martha Boksenbaum

Phoebe and her Unicorn

Dana Simpson

Cover Image

When Phoebe hits the unicorn Marigold Heavenly Nostrils with a rock, she asks Marigold to be her friend. But can two selfish individuals become true friends? Cue a series of adventures filled with hijinks, jokes, and life lessons!

Appeals to

Unicorn lovers and fans of humor reminiscent of classic comics strips such as Calvin and Hobbes

Creator Identities:

  • Gender Identity: Trans
Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Seance Tea Party

Reimena Yee

Cover Image

Lora loves spooky things, magic, and make-believe more than anything, but lately she feels like she no longer fits in with her friends. When she meets a ghost named Alexa, the two form a close bond only to have that tested as Lora grows up.. Can they keep their friendship, and can Lora keep her imagination?

Appeals to

Readers looking for a sweetly spooky and magical story of friendship

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6882

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 5453
Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Stargazing

Jen Wang

Cover Image

When Christine first meets Moon, she thinks Moon’s a bit weird and maybe a bit dangerous. After Moon’s family moves in nearby, the girls are fast friends. As they grow closer, Moon reveals that she has visions and is in fact a celestial being. When tragedy strikes, things get rocky. Can Christine be there for her friend when Moon needs her the most?

Appeals to

Fans of books that insightfully explore growing up and friendships like Smile and Click

Content Notes

Character illness

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6983

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6644
Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Tag Team

Raul the Third

Cover Image

Hard work is always easier when you share it with friends! Luchadores El Toro and La Oink Oink make the perfect team while they clean up together.

Appeals to

Fans of Elephant and Piggie will love this new series.

Creator Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 6894

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 5873
Recommended by

Martha Boksenbaum

Tea Dragon Society

K. O'Neill

Cover Image

After Greta finds a little tea dragon, she is drawn into the world of tea dragon care by two former adventurers and a young girl named Minette. This heartwarming story of memory and friendship will be sure to put a smile on your face.

Appeals to

Readers in the mood for a sweet fantastical tale

Creator Identities:

  • Gender Identity: Nonbinary

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 5357
  • Sexuality: 5362
Recommended by

Megan Rupe

The Breakaways

Cathy G. Johnson

Rupe

Cover Image

Faith joins the soccer team to spend time with the most popular girl in school only to find herself on the weakest team, the Bulldogs, with team members who aren’t popular and don’t want to be there. While they can’t score on the field, the Bulldogs are becoming acquainted with each other and themselves.

Appeals to

Readers who like stories about awkward underdogs

Creator Identities:

  • Gender Identity: Genderqueer

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 5357
Recommended by

Megan Rupe

This is Our Pact

Ryan Andrews

Cover Image

Ben and some friends make a pact to see where the lanterns from their village festival go. One by one, Ben’s friends drop out until only Nathaniel-a boy no one likes-is left. Ben and Nathaniel, with the help of a bear, set out on an epic journey full of magic, humor, and new friendships.

Appeals to

Fans of magical journeys; Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli fans

Main Character Identities:

  • Race and/or Nationality: 5357
Recommended by

Megan Rupe