"But MoTHER, I CAN'T now because I'm READING!"
October 11, 2011 8:03 AM   Subscribe

Please help me to find graphic novel/illustrated novel/comic strip novel/picture novella/comic book (whatever they're called) suggestions for my seven year old daughter? Preferences inside.

Our daughter has finally caught on to all that reading voraciously has to offer - especially the benefits of them in line-ups and waiting rooms, extended bedtimes, lazy weekend mornings, rainy recesses and our willingness to bribe/reward her with new books. Graphic novels and comic books are perfect - we read chapter books together at night, and she reads all her old picture books still too - but these give her the hunger to read more and they're usually small enough to keep in her little messenger bag or in my purse.

She started with Magic Trixie, and is halfway through the Bone books. I bought her Amelia Rules, and Sidekicks last week. She's already re-reading Amelia Rules and is working on earning another for Friday. She told me that Sidekicks is the first book that's ever made her cry. Twice. So I want more books like that, as well as a few for her to grow into. They don't need to be girly, they just need to be great stories.

We are happy to buy books, because we donate them to our school library when we're sure we're done with them, and she's good with that because she knows she can always check them out there. It was great that they had the Percy Jackson graphic novel, because now she can't wait to read the series - but there's not much so a second part of this is to stock the library for other kids in years to come.

That said, I am also stocking up for the upcoming gift-giving holiday that I still feel it's too early to mention; and while, believe me, I'm sure that soon we'll be living at Little Island Comics; and we also visit Silver Snail and will soon hit up the Beguiling, because we always try to support local and independent bookstores - I'm going to need to buy some online and second-hand, and save some money due to the quantity that she can consume and the difficulty in keeping her stocked via the library. But please do recommend any other Toronto-area stores we should check out that have good second-hand selections.

What isn't working: Though I've left out all my Calvin and Hobbes compendiums and she loves them, they're not so portable. She can read a Mighty Mighty Monsters book in half an hour, and I need them to last a day or two at least (and be re-readable) or I'll go broke. She liked Copper well enough, but she prefers a longer story. The Mouse Guard books are gorgeous, and have a great story and we're reading them together, because the font is too difficult for her to read alone with ease. Tin Tin just hasn't captured her, but we'll keep trying. There was a gorgeous Wizard of Oz graphic novel at the bookstore, but as we skimmed it, she found some of the images too scary. She's okay with "dark", she's okay with enemies and monsters and weird things, but some images are still a little too scary. And, too booby.

This post made me think I should check out some older versions of Teen Titans - and considering she made herself her own "Fantastic Girl" costume this past weekend, any superheros would be great. She's loving my husband's vintage...I mean, childhood...Hulk comics. But most important is the storyline - we've tried some of the fairy tales transformed into graphic novels, but the retelling isn't always compelling, and I think she prefers uncharted territory now - not just versions of stories she's familiar with. For the first time, she's reading things her parents have never read and she's said that it's great to have stories in her head that we don't know about so she can tell us things for a change.

Please help me fill my daughter's head with worlds and characters and stories that I missed out on, because this wasn't ever my thing?
posted by peagood to Media & Arts (31 answers total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
Check out the Marvel Adventures and DC's "Adventure" digests. They're meant for kids, technically, but all that means is that they're not bogged down in years of maintaining continuity/pandering to specific audiences (that are never 7-year-old girls) and instead are just fun, lively stories.
posted by griphus at 8:09 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Haven't read them yet, but how about Goodbye, Chunky Rice or Blankets (when she's older)?
posted by vastopenspaces at 8:17 AM on October 11, 2011

Best answer: I guess you've heard of Flight Explorer, but it never hurts to mention it for the benefit of others who might've missed it.
The Amulet books are pretty scary at times and deal with difficult stuff but maybe in a year? I loved them and wished I could've had read them as a child.
posted by hat_eater at 8:20 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Cardcaptor Sakura (if you can still find them, Amazon.com lists some still in print, some not so...) would probably be perfect for a little girl!
posted by Hanuman1960 at 8:21 AM on October 11, 2011

Best answer: I was drawn in by Asterix. It's a great combination of low-brow and high-brow, with Romans getting walloped mixed in with classical allusions and quotes.

The stories are great (more so under the original Goscinny-Uderzo team), but for a simple story, there's a lot to unpack. A simple reading is just fine for a 7 yr old, but there's enough there to keep her coming back, or her co-reading parents entertained. And clever. So very clever.

They may be more of a boys' thing than a girls' thing, but I've known a few girls who grew attached to the series as well. Totally fits your bill -- longer stories, easy to read, massive series to draw from.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:21 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oh! How could I forget The Adventures of Tintin. Every child should have the pleasure of that book.
posted by griphus at 8:23 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Zita the Spacegirl!

Dave Roman's Astronaut Academy may be slightly too old for her (it's possibly right on the line) but it's fun. Some of Raina Telgemeier's stuff may work too.

It's actually somewhat of a tough age, but I'll go through my shelves when I get home and see what else I have. (You've actually covered a lot of it already -- which is both good and bad, I suppose.)
posted by darksong at 8:30 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: My (very girly) eight-year-old daughter has enjoying this comic version of Jane Austen's Emma. She also likes Tiny Titans and Power Pack, but her absolute favorite-omg-she-loves-them-so-much-she-has-read-every-single-collection-at-the-library-twice-and-looks-for-more-every-week is Archie Comics. (not that you need a link, because who doesn't know about Archie Comics, but there it is).
posted by Dojie at 8:34 AM on October 11, 2011

In two years get her the graphic novel versions of The Babysitters Club series. But for now at 7 (and until she's 12 at least) she will love the witty, sweet, one of a kind Babymouse.
posted by Tylwyth Teg at 8:35 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

Seconding Marvel Adventures (especially Avengers, Spider-Man, and Power Pack, although a lot of the best Power Pack stories are out of print for some bizarre reason), Card Captor Sakura, and Asterix, the latter of which I adored when I was a seven year old girl. (We also had Tintin in the house but I didn't get into that one so much for a couple more years.)

I'd also add Thor: The Mighty Avenger and Mini Marvels.
posted by bettafish at 8:39 AM on October 11, 2011

Best answer: Courtney Crumlin might be fun: Creepy little girl with special powers...but not tooo creepy.
Shaman King is a pretty kid-friendly Japanese graphic novel widely available in the us. With 32 of them, I was able to keep my nephew in Christmas & Birthday reading for 8 years.
posted by Ys at 8:40 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding griphus, this question has had a ready and correct answer for decades in Tintin.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 8:46 AM on October 11, 2011

I see a lot of my 11-year-old girl students reading Fruits Basket books. Perhaps something to look at for the next few years?
posted by john m at 8:49 AM on October 11, 2011

Best answer: Nice timing. Yesterday, the Association for Library Service to Children issued a "list of core titles than can be used when starting or maintaining a children’s graphic novel collection."
posted by bentley at 8:51 AM on October 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

My little cousins were fans of Disney comics, especially the Scrooge McDuck/Donald Duck adventure stories, like this one
posted by zoetrope at 8:59 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

You might try pointing her towards Girl Genius, which started out as a graphic novel series and is now published freely online as well. The published versions are large-ish format, though (8"x11"), so they may suffer from the portability problem you mentioned.
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:01 AM on October 11, 2011

Yotsuba&! is a kids' manga by Kiyohiko Azuma that reads like a cross between Eloise and Mr. Bean. Azuma also created the Peanuts-esque high school manga Azumanga Daioh, which your daughter might also enjoy in another couple of years.
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:01 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My son got a kick out of the Magic Pickle books (some are graphic novels, some are chapter books with lots of illustration) and the Secret Science Alliance; my daughter at that age liked Yotsuba&! and Baby Mouse.
posted by mothershock at 9:06 AM on October 11, 2011

Zeotrope reminded me that Kaboom! Studios (the kid-friendly side of BOOM! Studios) has some great Disney/Muppet comics that are actually really good (the Roger Langridge Muppet stuff especially). But that depends on how you feel about that kind of thing. Langridge's Snarked!, which focuses on The Walrus and The Carpenter from Through the Looking Glass (and other Wonderland characters) just started, but it's fun for both kids and adults.
posted by darksong at 9:10 AM on October 11, 2011

A lot of what I'd recommend has been mentioned already! Two things:
- If she's cool with the "darker" elements in Bone, she'll likely be okay with Amulet (which can't be recommended highly enough).
- Astronaut Academy all the way.
posted by TangoCharlie at 9:10 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Beguiling has a very large collection of younger manga - the store is a Tardis and about 3 times bigger on the inside than it looks on the outside. The staff are also extremely knowledgable about comics, though some have some serious customer service issues (classic comic geek problem - have their dream job, but haven't worked out that clerks still need to be nice to customers). If one is surly to you, try for another.

They may have a separate section for kids manga/graphic novels -- I know they did at their last con.
posted by jb at 9:31 AM on October 11, 2011

Best answer: Leave It to Chance
posted by Zed at 9:47 AM on October 11, 2011

Best answer: This Donors Choose request has a great list of graphic novels at the bottom. (I feel like I should disclose that I live in this school district and might benefit somehow from any donations made to it.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:50 AM on October 11, 2011

Best answer: Oh, I forgot - Jellaby is also one of my favorite children comic books (for a seven year old it should be OK). Sadly, book 1 is out of print and only the first two chapters (about a half of it) are online. Book 2 is still available, but I haven't read it (yet).
posted by hat_eater at 10:06 AM on October 11, 2011

Best answer: Akiko on the Planet Smoo is an excellent science-fiction story featuring a young girl and her colorful companions. It's available in both straight comic books and illustrated novels. Highly recommended.

Sandwalk Adventures and Clan Apis are whimsical science adventures (a la Calvin & Hobbes experiments) that have a good grounding in actual science. They're fun, well-drawn and not too didactic. Check 'em out!

Linda Medley’s Castle Waiting is a great fairy-tale series that explores the roots of fairy tales to find out what happened after the happily ever after. One of my favorites!

Usagi Yojimbo is a long-running (20+ years) story of a samurai rabbit and his adventures in feudal Japan. Well-researched and illustrated in a style that captures some of the best manga storytelling techniques. Do check it out before passing it along--anthropomorphic animals die in swordfights and other ways, but I don't find it gory or upsetting.
posted by JDC8 at 11:30 AM on October 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you, thank you all. I am thrilled with the responses, and will be clicking through and marking favourites later tonight, after bedtime, while I have a cup of tea and the rest of the bag of Hershey's pumpkin kisses.

Just skimming, I'll mention that I glimpsed Amulet in the bookstore, and yes, it will be perfect, in a little while. The car accident/death in the beginning would is something that would be a bit too much just now, though she's okay with death in other ways. The timing is bad for the idea of a parent dying in a car crash - deaths in our circle in the past year have made this a sore spot. Visuals of little weird guys are different than picturing little kids when it comes to thinking about death, for her.

I forgot to mention that she also loved Chi's Sweet Home - so manga and manga-style is good, but the left-to-right format is better for her right now, as the review says. I'm only just now seeing all the blogs, when looking up these links - I like personal recommendations because my own favourite books have been passed hand-to-hand.

All I know about books of this nature is what I'm seeing when I go to bookstores and reading along with her, so I'll be printing a list to keep in my wallet in case I see things in thrift stores, used bookstores and for wishlists for family and friends. She does love monsters and creepy little things - she went on a Stain Boy kick after seeing the Tim Burton exhibit here, and as a toddler, one of her favourite bedtime stories was my description of what the Edward Scissorshands ballet was like after I saw it. So anything along that line is welcome too!

I am so happy and proud and want to fuel her as she's long as she's willing - at an estate sale this weekend, she spent the $1 we gave her to blow on a mini stapler and staples of her own, so she could make her own graphic novel. It's called "My Hard Life" by Emmy May and it's about Emmy May's embarrassing performances in every school play from grades 1-5. I keep thinking two things: That is that this is the kind of kid that I wished for and that I'm happy for her to have this joy (among others) in her life.
posted by peagood at 12:03 PM on October 11, 2011

Dark Horse and IDW have begun reprinting the first Archie newspaper strips and comic books.
posted by brujita at 3:16 PM on October 11, 2011

My sweet ten yr old boy loves Dragonbreath; it's not all drawn, parts are in normal text. Fun stories! I like them too.
posted by thylacinthine at 6:37 PM on October 12, 2011

Best answer: I was walking down Bathurst today and saw the new comic book store that's just for comics for kids: Little Island Comics. It's owned and operated by the Beguiling - obviously most or all of their kid's stock will be over there. Looks very good from the outside (bright, well-organized, with lots of but not too much stock).
posted by jb at 9:36 AM on October 15, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks again, everyone.

Her school's Scholastic Book Fair last week had Smile, which I'll probably get on Monday and stash away for her for a bit. We went to Little Island on Friday night, where the salesperson (Tory) was fantastic and made some great recommendations. The kiddo chose another Bone book and the third Magic Trixie, and I fell in love with the Last Unicorn, and the story behind the graphic novel and the story behind it. We already loved it, now we...I mean she...can love it more. I was also thrilled that Little Island had these little bundles, and can't wait to pass them out at Halloween. We stopped in Silver Snail on Saturday, and I saw the Puppy Sister there.

The other recommendations I'm still going through, and will be stocking up on many of them. This is an exciting world for both of us now, and I'm grateful for all you've shared.
posted by peagood at 9:56 AM on October 16, 2011

Response by poster: We just finished clicking on everything, and favourites are a combination of what she thinks look good, and what I'm sure she'll like from knowing her. Thanks, and any more suggestions are welcome. I think she'll like Tin Tin in a bit, and some of the Manga later on.
posted by peagood at 10:23 AM on October 16, 2011

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