Here are a handful of fun graphic novels my kids (mostly both the 7 and the 12 year old) and I have read and enjoyed recently.
Space Dumplins by Craig Thompson. Scholastic, 2015.
True confession: this is one my love bought new when it first came out that I only just got around to reading, despite a good review from Charlotte. What can I say? It had no due date. And it is now happily read.
Violet lives in an outer-space Roids trailer park with her working class family. Her father harvests space whale poop, a dangerous job that provides energy for much of the universe, while her mom has a low-paying sewing job but dreams of fashion design. Her mother’s lucky day comes just as Violet’s school explodes, so that Violet comes along with her mom to the high-class artificial planet of Shell-Tarr. When her father goes missing, Violet, Elliott the educated chicken and Zaccheus the “last living lumpkin” and former dump resident set off to find him, putting together their own ship and braving toxic whale diarrhea. It’s a rollicking space adventure with lots of kid-friendly humor, still using Thompson’s signature beautiful, detailed and swirling art. There are more major non-human characters than characters of color, but there is a lot here about class prejudice and the effort put into keeping class distinctions underneath danger of the planet-chomping whales and the joy of adventurous, warm-hearted heroine good with spaceships.
D.C. Superhero Girls: Hits and Myths. Written by Shea Fontana and illustrated by Yancey Labat. D.C. Comics, 2016.
D.C. has been expanding its offerings for younger readers with its new Superhero Girls line, which includes novels by Lisa Yee and a TV show as well as this line of graphic novels. My daughter devoured this book when my love bought it for her and insisted that I read it right away. High school meets the Odyssey as a gang of friends at Superhero High are trying to get ready for a sleepover at Wonder Woman’s, only to be delayed by things like a stolen bat plane and a missing professor as Wonder Woman tries to keep up with her class reading and connects their adventures to the classics. It’s a fairly large gang of friends, with familiar Batgirl, Supergirl and Wonder Woman headlining, while older diverse supporting characters Bumblebee, Katana, Hawkgirl, and Principal Amanda Waller given new prominence. (I’ll note for my records that artist Yancey Labat is African-American.) I was very pleased to see Bumblebee be the one to figure out how to get past the traps on one of their missions. Superhero High does have male students, too, and Beast Boy comes along for some of the fun here, but this is decidedly girl-centered, with girls starring and saving the day both for themselves and their kidnapped male professor.
Hilo: Saving the Whole Wide World by Judd Winick. Random House, 2016.
I put book 3 on my want-to-read list for the first half of the year (I’m still waiting for my hold to come in at the library,) but in the meantime, I thought I’d read book 2. Hilo had gone off to worlds unknown at the end of book 1, but now he is back. He’s trapped the evil Razorward, but everyone knows it’s only temporary. DJ and Gina help Hilo deal with the robots that keep popping through portals around town as Hilo, a robot who looks like a human, tries to find ways to be kind and not hurt humans or robots, even when the robots are programmed to attack humans. It’s very clear in this book that DJ’s feelings of inadequacy among and not being noticed by his family, brought up right at the beginning of the first book, aren’t imaginary – there’s a scene where DJ, Gina, and Hilo are having dinner at DJ’s house, and his busy family members rush around, greeting Gina and Hilo and asking where DJ is. But as more and more attacking robots appear, DJ has to step up to deal with them, whether or not his family thinks he can. The cliffhanger ending has me glad I waited until the third book was already out to read it!