So I decided to select two that tend to come up in conversations with other children’s librarians and friends who begrudgingly listen to me talk about kids books – 1 middle grade graphic novel and 1 picture book.
Sunny Side Up is the newest graphic novel from the Babymouse team, Jennifer and Matthew Holm that takes a decidedly different turn than the lighthearted stories in their early reader series. Set in the late 70’s, Sunny is sent to stay with her grandfather in Florida where she meets a new friend, leading to adventures all summer long. But the reason why Sunny has been sent away from her family is revealed later in the book - Sunny’s brother has a substance abuse problem. Reflecting the trend of more typically YA themes trickling down to middle grade fiction, Sunny Side Up presents this issue beyond successfully in a thoughtful and age-appropriate manner.
We Forgot Brock by Carter Goodrich tackles a universal topic for many kids – imaginary friends. Phillip and his imaginary friend named Brock are inseparable and both are excited when his parents decide to take them to the fair. But when Phillip arrives at home after falling asleep at the fair, he realizes that they’ve left Brock behind! The young boy sets out to find Brock only to find him with a young girl and her own imaginary friend named Princess Sparkle Dust. The four quickly become the best of friends. We Forgot Brock perfectly captures the imagination and the level of detail that kids put into their fantasy creations and is a delightful story about the power of creating stories.