The Beguiling Books & Art has been selling graphic novels in Toronto since 1987. Five years ago, I took a position heading up their Library Services division, which works with librarians and teacher-librarians to develop graphic collections in schools and libraries across the country. This means that every autumn I travel throughout Ontario to vendor displays, meeting in person with people who need expert advice on which graphic novels are right for their schools and communities. Of course, this also means that each autumn I have the pleasure of reading dozens and dozens of great graphic novels for kids, teens, and adults!
There is so much great work being produced and published nowadays, and happily in the last decade or so comics have gotten much of the attention they have always deserved. I’ve been asked to share just two of my favourites from this year, and as you might imagine, it was quite difficult to narrow my choices down. Here are two great comics for kids that you should be sure to include in your collections!
Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova
You may know Chmakova’s work from her earlier books Nightschool or Dramacon, in which she deployed a contemporary manga style towards which so many young readers gravitate. Now, in Awkward, her visual language has retained strong manga influences while incorporating some of the clearer æsthetic of North American cartoonists like Raina Telgemeier (Sisters) or Faith Erin Hicks (Adventures of Superhero Girl). Awkward tells a story of middle school friends and enemies, and how sometimes one can become the other. With a diverse cast of characters and a nuanced plot, I can’t imagine the middle-grade reader who wouldn’t get drawn in to this great book.
Flop to the Top by Eleanor Davis and Drew Weing
This book for emerging readers is another triumph for Françoise Mouly’s Toon Books line. When our young protagonist Wanda is unwittingly outshone by her demure dog, she isn’t quite sure how to take it. Flop to the Top is a book about attention, social media, and how we feel when someone close to us ends up with all the limelight. But beyond that, it’s a book full of stunning – just stunning – art that will delight every reader.
Grab these books for your library, but make sure you read them yourself too – you’ll be happy you did!
For more graphic novel suggestions from Andrew, you can head to The Beguiling Books & Art (comics for grown-ups) or Little Island Comics (comics for kids) in downtown Toronto, or get in touch via email at email@example.com!
Andrew Woodrow-Butcher has been a Toronto bookseller for about two decades. He is currently the Director of Library Services for The Beguiling, and Manager of Little Island Comics, North America’s first and only comic book shop just for kids.