Best Graphic Novels for Grades 4-6

Hilda and the Bird Parade

by Luke Pearson (Flying Eye)

Getting used to life in the big city is proving difficult for Hilda. The diminutive explorer is still missing the enchanted valleys and magical friends that surrounded her home in the fjords. But tonight is somehow different; tonight is the night of the mysterious Bird Parade. Finding herself lost on the streets of Trolberg, Hilda befriends a talking raven. Together they encounter all manner of bizarre creatures from outcast Trolls to ferocious Salt Lions and deadly Rat Kings – maybe the city isn’t so boring after all. All of Pearson’s Hilda books are charming, adventurous, and captivating. An animated Hilda series based on the first four books is slated for 2018.

Awards: Booklist Top 10 Books for Youth, Graphic Novels; School Library Journal Top 10 Graphic Novel; Eisner Awards Nomination, Best Publication for Kids; New York Times Notable Book

Princeless

by Jeremy Whitley and M Goodwin (Action Lab)

Adrienne Ashe never wanted to be a princess. She hates fancy dinners, is uncomfortable in lavish dresses, and has never wanted to wait on someone else to save her. However, on the night of her 16th birthday, her parents, the King and Queen, locked her away in a tower guarded by a dragon to await the rescue of some handsome prince. Now Adrienne has decided to take matters into her own hands!

Awards: Glyph Award, two Eisner Awards Nominations

El Deafo

by Cece Bell (Amulet Books)

Going to school and making new friends can be tough. But going to school and making new friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid strapped to your chest? That requires superpowers! In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful—and very awkward—hearing aid. The Phonic Ear gives Cece the ability to hear—sometimes things she shouldn’t—but also isolates her from her classmates. She really just wants to fit in and find a true friend, someone who appreciates her as she is. After some trouble, she is finally able to harness the power of the Phonic Ear and become “El Deafo, Listener for All.” And more importantly, declare a place for herself in the world and find the friend she’s longed for.

Awards: Newbery Honor Book; Eisner Award, Best Publication for Kids (ages 8-12); Kirkus Reviews Best Books, Middle-Grade Books; IRA Notable Books for a Global Society; Cybils Awards Winner, Graphic Novels for Elementary & Middle Grades; New York Times Notable Children’s Books

Sisters

by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic Graphix)

Raina can’t wait to be a big sister. But once Amara is born, things aren’t quite how she expected them to be. Amara is cute, but she’s also a cranky, grouchy baby, and mostly prefers to play by herself. Their relationship doesn’t improve much over the years, but when a baby brother enters the picture and later, something doesn’t seem right between their parents, they realize they must figure out how to get along. They are sisters, after all. Raina uses her signature humor and charm in both present-day narrative and perfectly placed flashbacks to tell the story of her relationship with her sister, which unfolds during the course of a road trip from their home in San Francisco to a family reunion in Colorado.

Awards: SLJ Best Books, Middle Grade; IRA Young Adults’ Choices Reading List; ALA Notable Books for Children; Booklist Top 10 Graphic Novels for Youth; Eisner Award, Best Writer/Artist

Amulet: The Stonekeeper

by Kazu Kibuishi (Scholastic Graphix)

Graphic novel star Kazu Kibuishi creates a world of terrible, man-eating demons, a mechanical rabbit, a giant robot — and two ordinary children on a life-or-death mission. After the tragic death of their father, Emily and Navin move with their mother to the home of her deceased great-grandfather, but the strange house proves to be dangerous. Before long, a sinister creature lures the kids’ mom through a door in the basement. Em and Navin, desperate not to lose her, follow her into an underground world inhabited by demons, robots, and talking animals. Eventually, they enlist the help of a small mechanical rabbit named Miskit. Together with Miskit, they face the most terrifying monster of all, and Em finally has the chance to save someone she loves. Many school libraries have long waiting lists for books in the Amulet series.

Awards: ALA Best Book for Young Adults; Children’s Choice Book Awards finalist; Eisner Award nominee

Stinky Cecil in Operation Pond Rescue

by Paige Braddock (Andrews McMeel)

Sometimes big stories happen in small places. Sometimes big things happen to small creatures. This is one of those stories . . . Cecil is a toad. A toad busy doing what any other toad does with its days–judging the pond splashing contest (Reggie the fly is usually the honorary winner by dint of his five-day lifespan), or visiting his friends, Jeff the free-range hamster, Rayray the lizard, Jeremy the worm, or Sprout the frog. And, of course, trying to keep clear of the local hawk. But when Cecil discovers a freeway construction project aimed right at the pond, he knows he has to come up with a plan to save his home. But what can a small group of amphibians and a reincarnating fly do against construction vehicles and a steady onslaught of hot asphalt? Cecil isn’t sure, but he knows they have to try. There are three books in the Stinky Cecil series so far.

The Secret Science Alliance and the Copycat Crook

by Eleanor Davis (Bloomsbury)

Super-smart Julian Calendar thinks starting junior high at a new school will mean he can shed his nerdy image—but then he meets Ben and Greta, two secret scientists like himself! The three form a secret club, complete with a high-tech lair. There, they can work to their hearts content on projects like the Stink-O-Meter, the Kablovsky Copter, and the Nightsneak Goggles. All that tinkering comes in handy when the trio discovers an evil scientist’s dastardly plan to rob a museum. Can three inventors, armed with their wacky creations, hope to defeat this criminal mastermind? The amazing art and design in this book will keep readers riveted.

Awards: Georgia Children’s Book Award Nominee; Booklist Top 10 Graphic Novels for Youth; Kirkus Reviews Best Children ‘s Books

Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: The Underground Abductor

by Nathan Hale (Amulet Books)

Araminta Ross was born a slave in Delaware in the early 19th century. Slavery meant that her family could be ripped apart at any time, and that she could be put to work in dangerous places and for abusive people. But north of the Mason-Dixon line, slavery was illegal. If she could run away and make it north without being caught or killed, she’d be free. Facing enormous danger, Araminta made it, and once free, she changed her name to Harriet Tubman. Tubman spent the rest of her life helping slaves run away like she did, every time taking her life in her hands. Nathan Hale tells her incredible true-life story with the humor and sensitivity he’s shown in every one of the Hazardous Tales—perfect for reluctant readers and classroom discussions. Nathan Hale has a gift for making history come alive for kids—the entire Hazardous Tales series is excellent.

Awards: New York Times Bestseller; 100 Notable Titles for Reading and Sharing, Children’s Books; Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 3–5; YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens; Eisner Award Nomination

Science Comics: Dogs

by Andy Hirsch (First Second)

How well do you know our favorite furry companion? Did they really descend from wolves? What’s the difference between a Chihuahua and a Saint Bernard? And just how smart are they? Join one friendly mutt on a journey to discover the secret origin of dogs, how genetics and evolution shape species, and where in the world his favorite ball bounced off to.

Every volume of Science Comics offers a complete introduction to a particular topic—dinosaurs, coral reefs, the solar system, volcanoes, bats, flying machines, and more. These gorgeously illustrated graphic novels offer wildly entertaining views of their subjects. Whether you’re a fourth grader doing a natural science unit at school or a thirty year old with a secret passion for airplanes, these books are for you!

Awards: Science Comics: Dinosaurs was nominated for an Eisner Award

Olympians

Series by George O’Connor (First Second)

Greek Gods as you’ve never seen them before! The strong, larger-than-life heroes of the Olympians can summon lightning, control the sea, turn invisible, or transform themselves into any animal they choose. Superheroes? No! Greek gods. The ancient pantheon comes to explosive life in this new series where myth meets comic books. Epic battles, daring quests, and terrible monsters await readers within the pages of these books.

Awards: YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens, Texas Maverick Graphic Novels List, NYPL Book for Reading and Sharing, Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year, Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year, New York Times Bestsellers

Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure

by Nadja Spiegelman & Sergio García Sánchez (Toon Books)

Pablo’s first day in a New York City school quickly goes off the rails during a field trip to the Empire State Building. Pablo accidentally gets on the wrong train, but with help from a new friend and from the city itself, he soon is on the fast track to becoming a local. This story—which features maps, archival photos, and fascinating facts—will help readers explore the subway without leaving their seats. It brings all the bustle and beauty of NYC to young readers around the world. Also available in a Spanish edition.

Awards: Association for Library Service to Children’s Graphic Novels Reading List; Association for Library Service to Children Notable Children’s Books; School Library Journal Best Books; Texas Library Association’s Little Maverick Graphic Novel Reading List; Kirkus Prize Nominee for Young Reader’s Literature

Secret Coders

by Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes (First Second)

Welcome to Stately Academy, a school which is just crawling with mysteries to be solved! The founder of the school left many clues and puzzles to challenge his enterprising students. Using their wits and their growing prowess with coding, Hopper and her friend Eni are going to solve the mystery of Stately Academy no matter what it takes! From graphic novel superstar (and high school computer programming teacher) Gene Luen Yang comes a wildly entertaining new series that combines logic puzzles and basic programming instruction with a page-turning mystery plot! There are four books in the Secret Coders series so far.

Awards: Mathical Book Award. Gene Luen Yang is a former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and is a MacArthur Fellow, a recipient of what’s popularly known as the MacArthur “Genius” Grant.