Blood City Rollers

V. P. Anderson

Tatiana Hill

Cover Image

13-year-old Mina loves figure skating, but with fierce competition and parents who have invested a lot in her becoming THE BEST, she is finding it hard to love. During a competition, Mina falls and breaks her arm, but before she can fully comprehend what this will mean for her future in ice skating, she is kidnapped by a group of vampires who want her to be on their roller derby team. Will Mina find a new sport where she can stop competing against herself and start enjoying her time with a team?

Appeals to

Fans of Roller Girl will love this girl power ramp with a supernatural twist.

Creator Identities:

Black, Latine |

Queer |

Gender Nonconforming, Genderqueer |

Neurodivergent |

Main Character Identities:

Queer |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Chunky

Yehudi Mercado

Cover Image

Hudi's parents want him to be happy and healthy, so out of concern for his health, they encourage him to try playing sports. And Hudi wants to make his parents happy as their relationship gets strained, so he keeps trying and trying. With each failed sport, Hudi and his invisible friend Chunky's relationship also gets strained. Eventually, everyone realizes what Hudi needs isn't soccer or football, it's making people laugh.

Appeals to

There's a lot in this comic to make it an easy recommendation for kids of all kinds: the struggle of trying to please parents, not feeling well suited to sports, having a name or identity others don't try to understand, dealing with health issues. Readers who enjoy an autobiographical element to their stories will appreciate that angle as well.

Creator Identities:

Mexican |

Jewish |

Main Character Identities:

Mexican-American |

Jewish |

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Curveball

Pablo Cartaya

Miguel Diaz Rivas

Cover Image

Elena doesn't love playing baseball the way she used to, so she decides to take the summer off and figure out if she wants to keep playing (and dealing with her competitive and overzealous mom) so she can be good enough to join the varsity team in high school. Her grandfather suggests she spend her summer with her younger brother Benji, who plays a live-action role-playing game with his friends in his free time. Will Elena find a new passion in LARPing or will she return to her first love, baseball? Or maybe she'll create a game all her own?

Appeals to

Both sports fans and gamers will find something to love here.

Creator Identities:

Cuban-American, Spanish |

Main Character Identities:

Cuban-American |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

Duel

Jessixa Bagley

Aaron Bagley

Cover Image

Ever since their dad died, Lucy and GiGi have been constantly fighting. When GiGi trips Lucy in the middle school cafeteria, Lucy challenges GiGi, a skilled fencer, to a duel. Even though Lucy hasn’t touched a foil in ages, she throws herself into practice so that she might finally put GiGi in her place. But is defeating GiGi really what Lucy wants?

Appeals to

As a former competitive fencer, I lunged for this title when I spotted it! It did not disappoint. Jessixa Bagley successfully weaves a story about two sisters with the build-up to a fencing match. The explanations of the fencing terms are clear, and the illustrations capture fencing actions and day-to-day life very well. Fencing lovers and readers seeking a nuanced story about siblings and grief will want to pick up Duel.

Content Notes

Bullying scenes; discussion of parent's death

Creator Identities:

Black |

Main Character Identities:

Black |

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Freestyle

Gale Galligan

Cover Image

Cory's friends and dance crew have one last competition to dance together because they're all going to different high schools next year. But between things getting tense in the group and Cory's parents not liking that his grades are dropping, it's looking like he won't even get to dance this one last time. That's where Sunna comes in; his new tutor seems dull to Cory at first but then she introduces him to yo-yo-ing. Now he's got to balance improving grades, dance crew, and also the school dance.

Appeals to

The story of Cory's friendships weathering many storms will resonate with fans of comics like Click or Lo and Behold. The clear research and joy for the dance crew and yo-yo can be a great way to get readers excited about these hobbies or encourage those already interested to learn more.

Creator Identities:

Taiwanese-American |

Nonbinary |

Main Character Identities:

Chinese-American |

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Hoops

Matt Tavares

Cover Image

At Wilkins High School, the boys basketball team is wildly popular. When Wilkins starts a girls’ basketball team, senior Judi jumps at the chance to play. While the girls have the skills, they have to fight for equal recognition and resources. Based on a true story, Hoops is a fantastic and timely tale of grit and glory.

Appeals to

Readers interested in women’s sports history will want to pick up Hoops.

Content Notes

Sexism

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Ride On

Faith Erin Hicks

Cover Image

After switching to a less competitive barn, Victoria is determined to focus on riding for fun and not make any friends. However, she soon discovers that there are people at her new barn who love the same sci-fi show she does. When she receives the opportunity to ride a horse she has been working with at a schooling show at her old stable, she’ll have to face the reason she left. Is Victoria up to the challenge of making friends and facing her past?

Appeals to

Faith Erin Hicks conveys a clear passion for horses and riding alongside a nuanced exploration of a girl trying to find the best way to pursue her interests. Horse lovers and readers who have enjoyed Hicks’ previous work will want to pick up Ride On.

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

Swim Team

Johnnie Christmas

Cover Image

When Bree and her dad move to Florida, she finds herself making some big adjustments, including having to deal with a brand new challenge: swim class! As Bree gains skill and confidence in the water, she gets added to the school swim team, which is now fighting to do well enough to keep their pool. Can Bree use her determination and new swimming skills to help lead her team to victory?

Appeals to

Swim Team is a skillful, compelling interweaving of the story of a determined girl’s discovery of a new sport and the history of systematic racism in swimming. With its fantastic illustrations and story, Swim Team is a book you need to dive into ASAP!

Content Notes

Racist actions; near drowning

Creator Identities:

Black |

Main Character Identities:

Black |

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

The Fifth Quarter

Mike Dawson

Cover Image

Fourth grader Lori loves basketball, but her weak skills mean she only plays in the fifth quarter where the points don’t count. However, Lori’s determined to get better, but she’ll have to overcome internal and external challenges to get to where she wants to be.

Appeals to

With plenty of relatable moments and dynamic action, the Fifth Quarter books will appeal to readers who’ve enjoyed the relatable content and action in sports stories like Roller Girl and The Breakaways.

Recommended by

Megan Rupe

The Tryout

Christina Soontornvat

Joanna Cacao

Cover Image

Christina is determined to get into cheerleading, because as far as she can tell it's the only way she'll be accepted by her fellow students and she's tired of being called racist things every day. Her best friend is in a similar situation, and the two vow to get in together, but their relationship is strained as her friend succeeds and Christina falls behind. What she ultimately learns is that there's a distinction between being popular and being accepted.

Appeals to

The Tryout is a great choice for readers of comics like Frizzy or Picture Day, focused on finding out what it means to be true to oneself and expecting respect for that from the community.

Creator Identities:

Thai-American |

Main Character Identities:

Thai-American |

Buddhist |

Recommended by

Shannan Prukop

Who Was the Greatest: Muhammad Ali

Gabe Soria

Chris Brunner

Cover Image

In Who HQ's recent series of graphic novel adaptations for their popular who was/what was books, they have covered several great athletes, like Michael Jordan, and an upcoming volume on Bruce Lee (March 2025). This volume features Muhammad Ali on his journey to the match that defined his career, his fight against Joe Frazier.

Appeals to

Readers who love the biographies covered by Who HQ will enjoy the series getting new life in graphic novel form.

Creator Identities:

Black |

Main Character Identities:

Black |

Recommended by

Tayla Cardillo

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