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Summer Reading Picks

Memorial Day has passed. The summer solstice is here. You’ve broken out the grill. The sweltering weather has started (at least here in NYC), and visions of beaches, pools, and vacation are dancing in our heads. Depending on where in the country you live, the kids are either finished school or wrapping it up and with summer vacation comes the challenge of getting kids to read to combat the “summer slide.”

So the GC4K gang , Brigid, Eva, Robin, Lori, & Esther, decided to chime in with our favorite graphic novel reads. Here’s a mix of new must reads and some old favorites:

P.S. Comics counts as reading!

Early Readers – New Titles
real poop penguinsThe Real Poop on Pigeons by Kevin McCloskey
A man sitting in a park is visited by three children who are dressed as pigeons and impart their knowledge of pigeons to him. There are lots of fascinating tidbits about the birds that are generally thought of as a nuisance in the city. A great read for kids who enjoy a mix of fiction and nonfiction. (Esther)

Written and Drawn by Henrietta by Liniers
A book within a book. Henrietta is gifted a box of colored pencils and begins to tell her own story. A cleverly told story.(Esther)

Johnny Boo Goes Like This! by James Kochalka
In James Kochalka’s seventh Johnny Boo and Squiggle find a magic pencil, and everything they draw with it becomes real. Chaos and hilarity result, especially when the Ice Cream Monster steals Johnny Boo’s hair—and it takes on a life of its own.(Brigid)

Early Readers – Old Favorites
Otto’s Orange Day by Frank Cammuso and Jay Lynch
Otto the cat loves the color orange, so when he meets a magical genie, he knows exactly what to wish for — everything to be orange!(Eva)

Middle Grade – New Titles
SunnySideUpSunny Side Up by Jennifer Holm
This middle-grade read was hugely popular with my students this year. A mix of family drama with bits of humor, made this a great read-a-like for Raina Telgemeier fans. Sunny goes to Florida to stay with her grandfather in his senior citizen complex, where there is only 1 other kid her age. But she gains a whole lot of understanding about family and support during her visit, which helps her face the things happening at home. (Esther)

The Creeps: Night of the Frankenfrog by Chris Schweizer
When the frogs they are supposed to dissect in science class go missing, Carol, Mitchell, Jarvis, and Rosario (a.k.a. The Creeps), investigate their whereabouts and encounter a lot of oddities in pumpkin county. This has a perfect blend of adventure, humor, and creepiness. (Esther)

The Secret Coders by Gene Luen Yang 
Hopper learns all about binary numbers as she discovers that robots are all over her new school. While reading this adventure, you’ll also learn a lot about coding. Book 2 is already out. (Esther)

Gotham Academy by Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, Karl Kerschl
Olive Silverlock is a student at Gotham Academy, the prestigious private school outside of Gotham City, and strange things keep happening around. This thrills her friend and little sister of her ex-boyfriend Mia “Maps” Mizoguchi, who loves mysteries and monster hunting. As the pair investigate the mysteries at the Academy, they make friends and find clues that lead to more questions than answers. This series is a lot of fun, balancing humor and drama while incorporating bits of the Batman mythos with heroes and villains popping up at the Academy. There are two trade paperbacks, and the most recent arc to finish “Year Book” is fantastic. (Lori)

zeusMiddle Grade – Old Favorites
Anything by Raina Telgemier 

Raina Telgemeier’s popularity is just not waning. She has 3 stand-alone titles, Smile, Sisters, and Drama as well as 4 titles from her Babysitter’s Club series. Both boys and girls are reading these titles in my school. (Esther)

Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales by Nathan Hale
This series, which is up to 6 titles, is perfect for any reader who likes to delve into the past. Hale makes history come alive through this series. (Esther)

Olympians by George O’Connor 
Many readers cherish the memories of poring over oversize, illustrated series about mythology—remember the D’Aulaires’ classic volumes?—and George O’Connor’s Olympians series is bound to be the same touchstone for many young readers. The myths are presented vividly in the comic format, and the rich colors, tales well-known and more obscure, and clever writing make each god and goddess shine. (Robin)

Yotsuba&! By Kiyohiko Azuma
Yotsuba&! returned with a new volume this month, which makes it the perfect time to pick up the series. It’s about a young girl named Yotsuba and her everyday adventures going to the store, eating at a restaurant, going camping, and visiting friends. Seeing the world through Yotsuba’s eyes will bring a smile to your face. There are 13 volumes now, but you can pick it up at any point in the series and still enjoy it. (Lori)

YA – New Titles
Yotsuba 13The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks 
Hicks’s The Nameless City is the rich, beautifully crafted start of a new trilogy inspired by Chinese history and the mix of cultures that traded along the Silk Road. This first volume invites the reader to walk the streets of a complex fictional metropolis. Two young people, Kai, growing up in the warrior culture now ruling the city, and Rat, a city native living out on the edges, are drawn into a conflict brewing between factions. This is a beginning, so a lot of groundwork is being laid for an expanding story, but the characters are true, engaging, and immediately sympathetic. This is a series that readers will be eagerly awaiting each installment, and will appeal to fans of Avatar the Last Airbender and fantasy epics like Fullmetal Alchemist. (Robin)

Yowamushi Pedal, vols. 1 and 2 by Wataru Watanabe
Summer is about getting out and enjoying the outside. What better way to do than on a bicycle? Don’t have one or the time? Then pick up Yowamushi Pedal. Onoda Sakamichi rides his bike 90 miles round trip from his home to the Otaku mecca Akihabara to buy new figures and video games. The long ride uphill on a “mommy” bike has given him speed and endurance he didn’t know he had. The bicycle club at his high school has noticed—but can he be convinced to join? This manga is filled with great characters and the bicycle racing is done well, making you wish is was you with the wind in your face. (Lori)

YA – Old Favorites
Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya
It’s back! After being out of print for years, Yen Press has “rescued” this beloved series in a multi-volume omnibus edition. Now’s your chance to discover (or rediscover) Tohru Honda and the mysterious transforming Sohma family. (Eva)

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Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. Her collection is also the model for all middle school libraries in NYC. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library, and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 3 and regularly reviews for SLJ, LMC. In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.

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