Middle-Grade Graphic Novel Round-Up

BookendsCindy and Lynn: It’s a great year for middle-grade and middle school graphic novels, whether they are sequels to popular series or something brand new. Here are two we’ve read recently and a short list of others that should also be on your radar…and your back-to-school order lists.


The Nameless City, by Faith Erin Hicks, with Jordie Bellaire

nameless cityThe Nameless City has been conquered and renamed so many times that the locals have stopped trying to keep track of what it’s called. Meanwhile, the most recent victors are doing their best to be vigilant. Kaidu, the young son of a general, is one of many being trained as a soldier to defend the city. He’s a bookish boy, and though he’s not really suited to warrior life, he certainly notices a  young, local girl called Rat, who leaps across rooftops with fearless abandon. The pair becomes unlikely friends, then allies when they discover a terrible plot that challenges their beliefs. Action-packed, suspenseful, and plenty funny, this gorgeous book should be read for its story as much as for its artistry.

Mighty Jack by Ben HatkeMighty Jack (September), by Ben Hatke

In most versions of the classic Jack and the Beanstalk folktale, Jack trades the family cow for some magic beans.  In Hatke’s wild version, Jack’s mute, autistic sister Maddy startles him into action when, while visiting a flea market booth, she tells Jack to trade their mom’s car keys for a box of seeds when the vendor promises that planting them will lead to freedom.

Once their garden starts to grow, Jack and Maddy soon realize its strangeness. From the little green hands that shoot up and fling mud, to larger creatures that look like they belong in “The Little Shop of Horrors” musical, Hatke’s illustrations delight. Like any good comic, the first installment leaves you hanging and very eager for what’s next.

Don’t miss these, either:

The Bandit of Barbel Bay (Fantasy Sports, v. 2)by Sam Bosma

Bera the One-Headed Troll, by Eric Orchard

Brothers Unite (2016) by Justin LaRocca Hansen

Delilah Dirk and the King’s Shilling (2016) by Tony Cliff

Dream Jumper: Nightmare Escape (2016) by Greg Grunberg and Lucas Turnbloom

Ghosts (Sep. 2016) by Raina Telgemeier

The Golden Compass Graphic Novel, v. 2 (Sep. 2016) by Philip Pullman (adapted by Stéphane Melchior and Clément Oubrerie)

The King of Kazoo (2016) by Norm Feuti

Lowriders to the Center of the Earth (Lowriders, v. 2) (2016) by Cathy Camper and Raul the Third

Lucy & Andy Neanderthal (2016) by Jeffrey Brown

Paths & Portals (Secret Coders, v. 2:) (2016) by Gene Yang and Mike Holmes

Red’s Planet: A World Away from Home (2016) by Eddie Pittman

The Weather Disaster (Mad Scientist Academy, v. 2) (2016) by Matthew McElligott






About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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