“You can't just go round murdering people. There are rules, Nimona.”
December 18, 2017 9:24 AM   Subscribe

Daughter, voracious reader, aged 11. I'd like some graphic novel suggestions. Read and enjoyed: Nimona, Amulet, Ghosts. Knows more about than anyone else on earth: Warrior Cats. Adored: Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls. I'd prefer stories that are age appropriate (so a lack of sex and drugs) and I'd also prefer to steer away from things based on cartoons (e.g. Adventure Time, even if I might be able to smuggle some Meredith Gran into her reading that way). What are the classics? What's new that she might enjoy?
posted by giraffeneckbattle to Writing & Language (37 answers total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
Gunnerkrigg Court, perhaps?

She may be a little bit young yet for Girl Genius, but keep it in reserve for a year or two.
posted by praemunire at 9:32 AM on December 18, 2017 [5 favorites]

My kid loved Warrior Cats, and also loved Castle Waiting.
posted by frecklefaerie at 9:34 AM on December 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Elfquest is a classic, no doubt about it, and a lot of people start reading it at her age. It’s high fantasy adventure with strong characters of both genders and neither. I do warn you that the elves are pretty sexy, and some have open relationships over the length of the series, although this is not explicit. Begin with Vol. 1, if you do. You can read it online from the publishers to see if it’s right.

Lynda Barry has been bringing it since the ‘80s. There are references to sex, sexual violence, and drugs, but none of these things are explicit or presented as any fun at all. I was a fan when I was 11.
posted by Countess Elena at 9:37 AM on December 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

Her soul sister, 10, recommends the Percy Jackson graphic novels.
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:41 AM on December 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Diana Wynne Jones! Lots of fun with the Chrestomanci series.
posted by daisystomper at 9:50 AM on December 18, 2017 [3 favorites]

Ack, a girl after my own heart!!!
  • Faith Erin Hicks has quite a few wonderful graphic novels out:
    • The Nameless City and The Stone Heart are the first two of a trilogy she's done that has a good feel like Avatar: The Last Airbender (the cartoon, we do not speak of the movie). (The Avatar comics are also good, but watching the series first might be best. And highly recommended)
    • Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong about robots and cheerleaders in high school
    • Friends with Boys about a homeschooled girl going to high school for the first time

  • Bone by Jeff Smith is really fantastic.

  • This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki is teenage wistfulness and a bit sad, but lovely.

  • Raina Telgemeier has written a lot of excellent graphic novels for just around her age, but still delightful to read, as I enjoyed them as a 30-something

  • As the Crow Flies by Mel Gillman is a new one out getting a ton of rave reviews and I am still kicking myself for not getting in on that Kickstarter.

  • Serenity Rose by Aaron Alexovich is so good, and this link is so you can get a signed hardcover edition of the whole series. Maybe pre-read it as her parent to see if it is too mature for her at age 11 (I wouldn't put this caveat for age 14 or 15, but it is still excellent).

  • March trilogy about US Rep John Lewis and his work in the Civil Rights Movement. This is intense. Another to pre-read for maturity level. Because, you know, a young boy was beaten to death.
NPR's 2017 100 Favorite Comics and Graphic Novels list which includes some of my above and a few others.
posted by jillithd at 10:13 AM on December 18, 2017 [5 favorites]

I enjoyed Polly and the Pirates and the Courtney Crumrin graphic novels.
posted by telophase at 10:15 AM on December 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

Check out Ursula Vernon. The Dragonbreath and Hamster Princess series are definitely age-appropriate. Digger has some darker elements, as this review mentions, so you might want to check it out yourself first (you can read it online at that first link).
posted by Lexica at 10:17 AM on December 18, 2017 [4 favorites]

Oh man, ditto getting her the collected volume of Jeff Smith's Bone. My brother and I read it serialized in Disney Adventures magazine when we were kids, and it's quite good.
posted by limeonaire at 10:18 AM on December 18, 2017 [3 favorites]

I would personally not recommend Monstress for an eleven-year-old. It is 100% intended for mature audiences -- I remember it was very graphically violent, and I wouldn't be surprised if there were sex and/or the fantasy equivalent of drugs as well. Would suggest checking it out yourself before giving it to her, at any rate.

As to DWJ, I love her, but I wasn't aware that there were comic adaptations?

Suggestion: browse through some past winners of Eisner awards for the various younger-audience categories. At a glance:

-Mouse Guard sounds like the sort of thing which would be right up her alley, given her love of Warrior Cats; I haven't read the series myself, but my friend has run several tabletop games in that setting and enjoys it
-I recall Coraline was acclaimed even outside of the specific sphere of graphic novels

I'll also put in a plug for Ursula Vernon -- I think her illustrated series are all for younger readers, but Castle Hangnail (higher text to image ratio) was fun too. And on preview, I see Lexica has got the other things covered, so I'll leave it at that!
posted by inconstant at 10:19 AM on December 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Seconding Lumberjanes, Courageous Princess, Bone, and Mouse Guard. Any interest in manga? It's not exactly a graphic novel but it is long-form if that's the thing you're looking for. She might enjoy Usagi Yojimbo.
posted by tchemgrrl at 10:49 AM on December 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

+1 for Bone and Coraline. The graphic novel adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time is very good also.
posted by Flannery Culp at 11:22 AM on December 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Hope Larson also has a series going with the first two out already: Compass South and Knife's Edge about 12 year old twins and adventures involving BOATS and sailors and pirates.

The complete 10 issue bundle of Cartozia Tales is wonderful, full of indie comics artists and adventure in all-ages stories.

Lucy Knisley's Relish: My Life in the Kitchen is more autobiographical but really lovely, too. It does talk about going through puberty in one of the stories.

Drew Weing's The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo are fantastic and give a different perspective on the "fish out of water" trope. The next book of the series should be out next year, I believe. (And is readable on his website, as it just finished. Looks like you can read the first chapter, then 2 and 3 are book only, then 4 and 5 are on the website until that book is out.)

Chris Schweizer's The Creeps series is for ages 8-12 and are fun and science-y!

Liz Prince's Tomboy: A Graphic Memoir is really great, although I'd recommend a pre-read if swearing is a no-no in your house.
posted by jillithd at 11:25 AM on December 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Luke Pearson's Hilda series is wonderful.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 11:37 AM on December 18, 2017 [4 favorites]

Zita the Space Girl!
posted by Omnomnom at 12:05 PM on December 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

I like the work of Jay Hosler. For example Clan Apis stars a honey bee named Nyuki. As he is an entomologist the stages of the bee's life are scientifically accurate.
posted by Sophont at 12:31 PM on December 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Forgive me because it's not a graphic novel, but there's a wonderfully strong female adolescent heroine, Nita, in the Young Wizards decalogy of books. She might enjoy them, and they're really fantastic.
posted by WCityMike at 12:43 PM on December 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Agree with Lumberjanes, Bone (and related Rose Daughter), Courtney Crumrin. Andi Watson's Glister series might also be good, and though it's older (and the art starts out not great but gets better fast) Skeleton Key.
posted by Athanassiel at 1:00 PM on December 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

I want to second many things above: Definitely Bone! Jay Hosler! Zita! And I read Digger to my seven year old last year; he didn't get all of it, but there was nothing inappropriate in there, and Ursula Vernon rocks, so that's a good shot.

Also check out Space Battle Lunchtime, which is just right for her age! Earth girl in intergalactic cooking reality show!

The Princeless series is DELIGHTFUL.

I haven't read Lumberjanes but she sounds like just the right demographic.

Also check out: Goldie Vance, Mighty Jack, El Deafo, and Secret Coders.

Some of these might be a tiny bit young for her, but all worth checking out!
posted by gideonfrog at 1:00 PM on December 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Roller Girl and All's Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson

Real Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham

Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova

The above are all excellent realistic fiction stories, great read-alikes for Raina Telgemeier!

Goldie Vance by Hope Larson and Brittney Williams (historical mystery!)

Jonesy by Sam Humphries and Caitlin Rose Boyle (contemporary story with light paranormal(??) element -- Jonesy has the power to make other people fall in love with people or things! Hilarious!)

Space Dumplins by Craig Thompson (space adventures!)

If she's interested at all in superheroes, Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel, and Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur are all great places to start!
posted by wsquared at 1:02 PM on December 18, 2017 [3 favorites]

Oh, and The Three Thieves series!
posted by gideonfrog at 1:08 PM on December 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

I love This One Summer to bits, but I'd save it for a couple years. There's a subplot about the convenience store clerk knocking up his girlfriend and being a jerk about it and some other "teenagers up to no good" bits that sound like not what you want.

2nding Ms. Marvel. Great stories, no sex or drugs (main character is religiously devout). Does have crossovers with other comics but I could keep up despite not knowing any of their backstory.
posted by momus_window at 1:24 PM on December 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

Wow... I hit a rich vein here! There is SO MUCH good stuff out there. Thank you for all these great suggestions.

Coraline we have and love (also the film).

I love the description of Castle Waiting. A feminist fairy tale.

Monstress I picked up and flicked through today and as someone said, much too violent at her age.

Manga, definitely, in answer to someone's question. Some of the Warrior Cats books have mini-manga adventures in the back and she's flicked through some of mine so absolutely.

I was also thinking of Faith Erin Hicks but wasn't certain what tone her published things hit. I remember when she first started putting things online years ago, finding her voice with Demonology. I'll definitely pick up The Nameless City now. And a Hope Larson series too...?! I think my daughter may just be getting books and books alone for Christmas. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

Bone looks great - for some reason I had in my head that it was targeted at mature audiences but nope.

I may go with Lumberjanes (as she's read Nimona), too. Gah, so many other choices!

Keep them coming, folks! This will keep her (and me) going for months.
posted by giraffeneckbattle at 1:41 PM on December 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

If she liked Amulet, Kazu Kibuishi also wrote Daisy Kutter a cowboy steampunk girl led adventure. It might have one or two cuss words (nothing worse than shit).

Nutmeg is a lesser known title - teen girl crime book centering on bake sale shenanigans.

I can't recommend Mouse Guard enough as long as animals at war doesn't bother her.

Lumberjanes is great.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 2:00 PM on December 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

And oh, yeah, I see you already ruled it out, but for anyone reading this for their own ideas, Monstress is totally too old for her. I'm 36 and I had to put it down at first because the first 10 pages or so are so evocative, grim, and violent.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 2:03 PM on December 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

> Kazu Kibuishi also wrote Daisy Kutter

I have a first edition of Daisy Kutter, a limited version he published before he got a book deal. (I'm very proud of that!).

> as long as animals at war doesn't bother her.

This is pretty much the plot of most Warrior Cat books as far as I can tell (mix in prophecy and bravery and so on).
posted by giraffeneckbattle at 2:10 PM on December 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

YAY for first edition of Daisy Kutter (heh, I also have that)!! Did you get the Kickstarter book? I think there's an extra story or two in there?

Oh yeah, I guess for me Warrior Cat is more...cartoon-y? And Mouse Guard is more...creepy awesome Ralph Bakshi type? At points it reminded me of the Watership Down film.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 2:15 PM on December 18, 2017

The reprint Kickstarter? I didn't get that - apparently the extra short was in a later volume of Flight as well but I think I only have the first three of those. We're waiting for the next volume of Amulet to come out but I have't seen a date yet.
posted by giraffeneckbattle at 2:27 PM on December 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

Castle Waiting is absolutely wonderful but sadly there doesn't seem to be any more of it. Sigh. Although according to the page about her on the Fantagraphics site, she is both working on more Castle Waiting and a graphic novel adaptation of the Oz books, which does seem to be confirmed. However given the stormy relationship with Fantagraphics, who knows when that might be. Even bigger sigh. Yes, I realise you have yet to get hooked on Linda Medley but she is SO GOOD.
posted by Athanassiel at 2:49 PM on December 18, 2017

(nthing Lumberjanes, Space Dumplins, El Deafo, anything by Ursula Vernon [nobody's mentioned Nurk yet], and all of wsquared's superhero recommendations)

Also, Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol, and for a total left turn, may I recommend Mari Yamazaki's Thermae Romae series? It's about bathhouses, the construction and management thereof.

Although his Giant Days series is not age appropriate (oh, Dark Esther, and her bad decisions), John Allison has a lovely series about CRIME SOLVING TWEENS/TEENS called Bad Machinery which is simply lovely (it's available both online, and collected as a series of softcover books).
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 5:19 PM on December 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

Hereville, How Mirka Got Her Sword by my college friend Barry Deutsch. Synopsis from Booklist:
Set in a well-realized contemporary Orthodox Jewish community, this sweet and engaging tale of 11-year-old Mirka’s thirst for a dragon-slaying adventure unfolds in well-integrated images and text. Mirka’s family includes a stepmother who is strict but not evil, a marriage-obsessed older sister, and a little brother for whom Mirka alternately takes responsibility and finds unwontedly cumbersome. Deutsch creates authentic characters spiced with just enough fantasy to surprise: the members of the community use Yiddish and Hebrew expressions, which are translated as they appear in the text, and the arrival of a talking pig in the village presents a challenge for Mirka, as pig and girl compete to outmaneuver each other in arguments as well as actions. And then there’s the space alien who challenges Mirka to knit for her life. Details of Orthodox daily life are well blended into the art and given just the right touches of explanation to keep readers on track. Mirka is a spunky, emotionally realistic, and fun heroine for her peers to discover. Grades 3-6. --Francisca Goldsmith --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
posted by Schmucko at 7:14 PM on December 18, 2017 [2 favorites]

Given the Warrior Cat love, maybe Brian Jacques' Redwall series? They're almost old-fashioned by today's standards, but iirc aren't problematic. I loved them fiercely when I was that age in the early 90s. Ok I still do.
posted by JuliaIglesias at 7:59 PM on December 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

+1 to Hereville! It's a wonderful graphic novel, with amazing artwork. He's written it out to 3 books so far, as well (and working on a 4th).
posted by croctommy at 11:49 PM on December 18, 2017 [1 favorite]

> John Allison has a lovely series about CRIME SOLVING TWEENS/TEENS called Bad Machinery

I've loved John Allison since Bobbins but for some reason didn't even consider Bad Machinery. I feel like you need to know the history of Tackleford and all the characters that live there (Shelley, Ryan, etc) - even though they only make occasional appearances in the Bad Machinery books - and all the weirdness that goes on. Heck, I'll get her the first Bad Machinery when the kids are still pretty young and see what she thinks.
posted by giraffeneckbattle at 12:49 AM on December 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

Thought of some more!

Cleopatra in Space (Might skew a little young, but super fun! There are talking space cats!)

The Sand Warrior (a sort of sci-fi fantasy adventure, definitely a good read-a-like for Amulet. Kazu Kibuishi and Noelle Stevenson blurbed it, so sounds right up your daughter's alley)

In Real Life (about a girl caught up in an online gaming world, adapted from a Cory Doctorow story)

Gotham Academy (mysterious boarding school hijinks in the DC universe -- there is also a crossover series with Lumberjanes)
posted by wsquared at 5:20 PM on December 19, 2017

My kid loves Nimona and rereads it about monthly at this point. She ADORES Lumberjanes as well, and Vernon's Hamster series.

Not as well known but it was Cat's Cradle by Jo Rioux that got her into graphic novels. Only one book at the moment sadly.

She really enjoyed Nausicaa the manga as well (she can read Japanese though, which helped I think).

The Catwings series by Ursuala Le Guin is also a favourite. Very small, very short, very emotional and intense, and have a very British feel.

The DC Super Hero Girls novels and graphics have been favourites too.
posted by geek anachronism at 4:30 PM on December 20, 2017

Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon Hale. It's a feminist retelling of Rapunzel set in a mythical Old West. Her hair becomes a weaponized lasso.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 9:21 AM on January 15, 2018

« Older How to deal with no acknowledgment of greeting...   |   Budgets and boundaries in gift-giving, "lunch... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.