Tuesday 19 August 2014

WOW! Let’s Celebrate; Comics, Graphic Novels and Magazines! Graphic Novels Top Picks

Continuing our summer of celebrations of all things comics, graphic novels and magazines here are a few Graphic Novel top picks…

So where to start with Graphic Novels? There are so many choices, an adaption of a classic books? A bind up of a favourite comic strip, of go all out and spin your head with Japanese Manga, and start reading from the back of the book? Well, here are a few suggestions, of graphic novels that may just inspire the children you know to read.

Small children…

The sequential narrative may not be the easiest to follow for very young children, plus the small writing may be tricky. However there are some great graphic novels out there which small children may enjoy, especially as a shared experience reading with an adult.

The Lazy friend, by Ronan Badel published by Gecko Press, is a fun and text free. It could be categorised as a wordless picture book or graphic novel, but either way it amusing tale of the adventures of the jungle animals, and especially lazy sloth, which is delivered entirely by illustration. It’s funny, and a manageable size, with each spread developing the story to the next level, making it easy for young children to follow, and giving them the scope for creating their own stories to accompany the images.

Toon Books is a publishers specialising in easy to read comics for children, and they publish thir titles in stages, so you can find the right graphic novel for your child, whether it by words free, word light or more advanced. HEARTS by Tereza Rowe features beautifully stylised illustrations using the familiar comic book ‘squares’ as it shows Penelope the Fox adventures as she tries to find her lost heart. The back of the book even includes a guide of how to read and enjoy comics with children.

When I was a child there were two books that I can recall as having been comic book like, both of which are still loved today. The first is by the fabulous Raymond Briggs and again is wordless it is of course The Snowman.

Young readers…

The second of the comic book/ graphic novel book I recollect as having loved as a child which is still loved by many Funnybones by husband and wife author and illustrator collaborators the Alan and Janet Ahlberg. Funnybones is the funny and slightly creepy tale of the two skeletons night out, which is charming and amusing but if things that go bump in the night is too much you can always try their equally funny Cops and Robbers.

Red Ted and the Lost Things by Michael Rosen and Joel Stewart should strike a cord with most children’s hearts. It’s the tale of Red Ted, who finds himself on shelf next to Crocodile and all the other ‘lost things’. Determined not to be forgotten Red Ted and his new friend Croc go on a journey, leaving the lost things and travelling through town on a gentle adventure to be reunited with red Ted’s child Stevie. 

Vern and Lettice by Sarah McIntyre and published as part of The David Fickling Library is an fun wacky read in the company of Vern the rabbit and his best friend Lettice the sheep as they have quirky mad-cap adventures. Great fun for children and adults alike.

When their ready for something more…

Graphic novels, for older children are plentiful. You can go action, you can go fantasy, well there is something for everyone. Here are just a few suggestions…

If you have child who is reluctant to read novels, but like action or just good story telling you can use graphic novels to ignite an interest by getting them reading adaptation of novels and hopefully this can encourage them to more on to reading the actual novels. 

With this in mind, I would consider picking up the excellent Graphic Novel version of Eoin Colfers Artemis Fowl. The book captures the action packed shenanigans as twelve year old master criminal Artemis kidnaps LEPrecon (Lower Elements Police) office and ELF Holly Short, with the view to barging her for Faerie gold. The illustrations are done Giovanni Rigano and colour work by the hand of Paulo Lamanna, and they fully capture the action and characters as the enraged technologically advanced Faeries lay siege to Fowl Manor, Artemis home. The format suits the story, making it even faster pace than the full throttle original, but has a frugal word count yet not compromising on the reading level with many challenging words and concepts. 


Another fully charged novel adaptation is of Anthony Horowitz’s Strombreaker, following the young (bond-esk) teen Alex Rider on his first mission after being recruited by MI6. Again, the story lends itself to the adaptation into graphic novel, with it’s camp baddies and full throttle action, and may encourage children to dip into the novels too.

Older readers will also be tempted to manga, this is usually helpful has age recommendations on the back cover (for any adults who may be nervous about the genre) telling you exactly what to expect in the story. There is Japanese and western produced manga, both of which have their own merits.

Although for the less action shoot-em-up children I would recommended looking at manga lists, as they do some really good gentler graphic novels. My eight year old son is practically partial to the western manga based on the best-selling Seeker series by Erin Hunter, which follows the trials and fortunes of bear cubs in the wilderness. Full of peril and adventures, with exquisite monochrome graphic, this is great for lovers of animal stories. 

Classic’s being copyright free seem to be making a healthy appearance in graphic novel format, so if your child is studying a classic, then how about letting them have a few moments of less heavy reading by reading the graphic novel. It is quite an interesting exercise, looking at what the essential plot points are, as the format will only allow the bare bones. Most libraries now have a well-stocked graphic novel section with a large amount of classic titles.

Young Adults, will find many graphic novels for them, and most won’t want recommendations from adults, however I have to mention my favourite 13+ Japanese Shōjo Manga; Gakuen Alice by Tachibana Higuchi. Manga for those who may not know means whimsical sketches’ and Shōjo Manga’s, are primarily created by women artists. 

Gauken Alice or Alice Academe is about Miikan a 10 year old girl who travels to Tokyo to the Alice Academe in search of her best friend Hotaru. When she arrives, Mikan finds that the Academe is a school for ‘gifted’ children who have superpowers called Alices.’ Mikan becomes enrolled as she too has a powerful alice, and soon discovers that the academe is much more sinister than it seems. The art work is beautiful; the depth of images created in monotone is amazing. For teens this is a great read.

So there we have it a few suggested Graphic Novel reads, and hopefully there is something there for everyone.


  1. I recently read and loved Kate Di Camillo's 'Flora and Ulysses'. It's part graphic novel which i think works really well.

  2. Thanks Jan, i'll have to check that one out!


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