Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Finding great comic books for kids: Eisner Awards 2019 (ages 6-16)

If you're looking for great comic books and graphic novels to share with kids, definitely check out the Eisner Awards, the most prestigious comic book award in the industry. Named in honor of the pioneering writer and artist Will Eisner, voted on by comic book professionals and presented at the annual San Diego Comic-Con. I pay particular attention to three categories: best comics for Early Readers (up to age 8), for Kids (ages 9–12), and for Teens (ages 13–17).  Here are this year's winners (check out the full list here):

Early Readers (up to age 8): Johnny Boo and the Ice Cream Computer, by James Kochalka. Energetic little ghost Johnny Boo creates an incredible Ice Cream Computer that turns anything into ice cream -- but what happens when Johnny's best friend Squiggle decides to turn into ice cream?!? He pops out with hundreds of Squiggle clones, only to have the Mean Little Boy try to capture him for his butterfly collection. With simple dialog and goofy plot twists, young readers will eat this up.

Kids (ages 9-12): The Nameless City #3: The Divided Earth, by Faith Erin Hicks. This is an exciting conclusion to a terrific series -- the series opener (The Nameless City) is a favorite at my school. In an ancient city, Kaidu, son of the ruling army Dao, and a native city girl named Rat form an unlikely friendship and alliance. In the series conclusion, Rat and Kai must infiltrate the rogue ruler's palace and steal back the deadly weapon of mass destruction. With action-filled battle scenes, a complex fantasy world and strong friendships, this series appeals to a wide range of readers.

Teens (ages 13-17): The Prince and the Dressmaker, by Jen Wang. Prince Sebastian feels comfortable identifying both male and female, often wearing dresses and going out as his alter ego, Lady Crystallia. When he hires Frances, a young seamstress, to make him a wardrobe of boldly beautiful, dazzling dresses, Frances hesitates at first, but they soon discover a shared passion for fashion. Incorporating the feel of classic fairytales, Wang creates a story that revolves around friendship, following your dreams and speaking your truth.

I especially happy that Jen Wang also won the Eisner Award for Best Writer/Artist. The Prince and the Dressmaker is an outstanding book that draws readers in with its beauty, heart-felt characters and coming-of-age story.

One of the interesting things I find is how graphic novels can appeal to a wider age range than publishers and reviewers often note. For example, The Nameless City series is very popular in my high school. I'd also highly recommend The Prince and the Dressmaker for ages 11 and up.

For more outstanding graphic novels, explore previous winners of the Eisner Award (by category, via Wikipedia). The review copies came from my school library. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2019 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Comics make the best camp packages! (ages 8-11)

Getting packages at camp is great. My niece & nephews (ages 8-11) are away at camp for a month, so I just sent them a care package with comics. With rest hour every day, it's great to have some new comics. I thought I'd share what's headed their way.

Hilo #3: The Great Big Boom
, by Judd Winick:
 This series is one of my nephew's favorites, and I hope I've sent the right one for him! In the series opener “The Boy Who Crashed to Earth,” D.J. Lim’s life turns from ordinary to exciting when he discovers Hilo, an extraterrestrial boy wearing nothing but silver underpants. This story is full of action and humor, as Hilo and D.J. battle robots and giant insects intent on destroying Hilo’s home planet. In Hilo #3, DJ has to find his friend Gina after she was swallowed by a mysterious portal. My note to my nephew says,
"Hilo is the best! And DJ reminds me of you -- such a good friend and always ready for adventure!"
Stone Rabbit: BC Mambo, by Erik Craddock:  Stone Rabbit's boring life suddenly changes when he finds a time portal in his bathroom and he falls into the land of dinosaurs. Non-stop action ensues, as Stone Rabbit is captured by a crazy monster and has to figure his way out if he can escape and save the day. If you're looking for high-action and silly humor, without a lot of words, this is a great series.

Squish #1: Super Amoeba & Squish #2: Brave New Pond, by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm: I especially think my youngest nephew will connect with Squish -- he loves reading comics, he sometimes feels little but tries to stand up for himself when he's pushed around. Squish is full of laughs, but he has a really soft heart.

Princeless #1: Save Yourself & Princeless #2: Get Over Yourself  by Jeremy Whitley, illustrated by M. Goodwin: When Princess Adrienne’s parents lock her away in a castle guarded by a dragon to await rescue by a prince, she decides to take matters into her own hands. My niece loves princess stories, and I love this feisty heroine and this story that upends so many stereotypes and tropes.

Guts, by Raina Telgemeier: “Smile” and “Sisters”--Raina Telgemeier's graphic memoirs--are absolute favorites, and I'm sure that my niece is going to be thrilled to see the advanced copy for her newest book (out September 17th). Raina draws readers in with her relatable situations and humor, creating a real bond as she reflects on the pressures tweens face at school and at home. Raina's worries about school, friends (and not-friends), and getting sick just keep making everything worse. As I wrote my niece, Raina's story "feels so real."

Hope you're having a fun summer and finding some time to read! The review copy of Guts was kindly sent by the publishers, Graphix / Scholastic. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2019 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books