Best Graphic Novels for Grades 1-3

Dog Man Unleashed

From the Creator of Captain Underpants (Dog Man #2)

Essentially a spin-off of the popular Captain Underpants series, this is the second installment in the series of stories starring Dog Man, the most drooling (and least focused) member of his police force. His crime-fighting adventures are punctuated with distractions in the form of giant bones, odd smells, and his nemesis, Petey the cat, who is being framed by his (even more evil) double, Paper Petey. There’s even a mystery villain! If you’re familiar with Captain Underpants, you won’t be surprised that this book is full of sight gags and harmless jokes. I read this with my friend’s 6 year-old son, and he was transfixed the entire time (a marked accomplishment given his limited attention span).


Odd Duck

by Cecil Castellucci and Sara Varon (First Second)

Theodora is a perfectly normal duck. She may swim with a teacup balanced on her head and stay north when the rest of the ducks fly south for the winter, but there’s nothing so odd about that. Chad, on the other hand, is one strange bird. Theodora quite likes him, but she can’t overlook his odd habits. It’s a good thing Chad has a normal friend like Theodora to set a good example for him. But who exactly is the odd duck here? Theodora may not like the answer. A gorgeous, funny, and heartwarming examination of the perils and pleasures of friendship.

Awards: Boing Boing Gift Guide, Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year, Eisner Award Nominee, Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year

Ordinary People Change the World

(series) by Brad Meltzer and Chris Eliopoulis

Each picture book biography in this New York Times bestselling series tells the story of a significant historical figure in a simple, conversational, playful way, always focusing on a character trait that makes the hero a role model for kids.

“Each book tells the story of a hero when they were a kid. We see them as children. So it’s not just Amelia Earhart and Abraham Lincoln being famous — but them being just like us.” —Author Brad Meltzer

Titles include Harriet Tubman, Jane Goodall, Gandhi, Jim Henson, Jackie Robinson, Sacagawea, and more.

Babymouse Is Queen of the World

by Jennifer Holm and Matt Holm (Random House)

Meet Babymouse—Her dreams are big! Her imagination is wild! Her whiskers are ALWAYS a mess! In her mind, she’s Queen of the World! In real life…she’s not even Queen of the lunch table. Author Jennifer Holm teams up with Matthew Holm to bring you a fully illustrated graphic novel series packed with humor and kid appeal—BABYMOUSE! It’s the same thing every day for Babymouse. Where is the glamour? The excitement? The fame?!? Nothing ever changes, until…Babymouse hears about Felicia Furrypaws’s exclusive slumber party. Will Babymouse get invited? Will her best friend, Wilson, forgive her if she misses their monster movie marathon? Find out in Babymouse: Queen of the World! And check out the entire, 20-book Babymouse series!

Awards: Eisner Award, Best Publication for Early Readers, Children’s Choice Award

Are We There Yet?

Dan Santat

“Are we there yet?” Every parent has heard this classic kid question on a long car ride–and after reading this astonishingly inventive new book (that even turns upside down for several pages!), you’ll never look at being bored the same way again. Let’s face it: everyone knows that car rides can be boring. And when things get boring, time slows down. In this book, a boy feels time slowing down so much that it starts going backward–into the time of pirates! Of princesses! Of dinosaurs! The boy was just trying to get to his grandmother’s birthday party, but instead he’s traveling through Ancient Egypt and rubbing shoulders with Ben Franklin. When time flies, who knows where–or when–he’ll end up.

Awards: The Kirkus Prize Nominee, Young Readers; ALA Notable Books for Children; Nominee, Picture Books; Goodreads Choice Awards, Picture Books; ILA Children’s Choices Reading List

The Great Pet Escape: Pets on the Loose!

by Victoria Jamieson (Holt Books for Young Readers)

The class pets at Daisy P. Flugelhorn Elementary School want OUT . . . and GW (short for George Washington), the deceptively cute hamster in the second-grade classroom, is just the guy to lead the way. But when he finally escapes and goes to find his former partners in crime, Barry and Biter, he finds that they actually LIKE being class pets. Impossible! Just as GW gets Barry and Biter to agree to leave with him, a mouse named Harriet and her many mouse minions get in their way. What follows is class-pet chaos guaranteed to make readers giggle . . . and maybe look at their class pets a little differently in the future.

Awards: Texas Bluebonnet Award

Comics Squad: Recess!

(series), by Jennifer Holm, Raina Telgemeir, et al (Random House)

Wowza! Calling all kidz! Do you like comics? Do you like laughing till milk comes out of your nose?! Look no further—do we have the book for you! All your favorite comic creators are right here in this handy-dandy hilarious book! This all-star tribute to classic Sunday comics includes eight sidesplitting, action-packed stories about every kid’s favorite subject—RECESS! With popular characters from Babymouse and Lunch Lady and brand-new soon-to-be favorite characters from superstars including Dav Pilkey! Raina Telgemeier! Gene Yang! and many more! Comics Squad also features Pizza Monsters! Secret ninja clubs! Aliens! Talking desserts! Dinozilla! Death-defying escapes! Bad guys! Good guys! Medium guys! Superheroes! Bullies! Mean girls! Epic battles! True love! Outlandish schemes! Evil plans! Fun! Jokes! Terrible puns! And other surprises that will tickle your funny bone! WARNING: THIS BOOK MAY CAUSE EXCESSIVE LAUGHTER AND POSSIBLE SILLINESS. No assembly required. (Pizzatron 2000 not included.) And be sure to enjoy Comics Squad: Lunch and Comics Squad: Detention!

Akissi: Feline Invasion

by Marguerite Abouet and Mathieu Sapin (Flying Eye Books)

This bestselling French comic follows the adventures of a naughty West African girl. Poor Akissi! The neighbourhood cats are trying to steal her fish, her little monkey Boubou almost ends up in a frying pan and she’s nothing but a pest to her older brother Fofana… But Akissi is a true adventurer, full of silliness and mischief and nothing will scare her for long! Akissi is an exciting tale of childhood that will undoubtedly leave kids wanting to read more.

Awards: Kirkus Star Review

Giants Beware!

(Chronicles of Claudette series) by Jorge Aguirre and Rafael Rosado (First Second)

Make way for Claudette the giant slayer in this delightful, fantastical adventure! Claudette’s fondest wish is to slay a giant. But her village is so safe and quiet! What’s a future giant slayer to do? With her best friend Marie (an aspiring princess), and her brother Gaston (a pastry-chef-to-be), Claudette embarks on a super-secret quest to find a giant-without parental permission. Can they find and defeat the giant before their parents find them and drag them back home? Claudette and her friends will have you laughing out loud from page one. Don’t miss the whole series, including Dragons Beware! and Monsters Beware!

Awards: Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List; Bank Street Best Children’s Book of the Year; Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Award Maser List; Kentucky Blue Grass Award Master List; Maine Student Book Award Master List,;California Library Association – Best Graphic Novels

Mr. Badger and Mrs. Fox: The Meeting

by Brigitte Luciani and Eve Tharlet (Lerner)

When a hunter’s dog chases Mrs. Fox and her daughter, Ginger, out of their home, the Fox family moves into the tunnel of Mr. Badger, his two squabbling sons (Bristle and Grub), and his toddler daughter, Berry. The result is a story of the ups and downs of forming a blended family, making new friends, and keeping absent loved ones in our hearts. The entire Mr. Badger and Mrs. Fox series will captivate young readers.

Awards: Cybils nomination

Sticky Burr: Adventures in Burrwood Forest

by John Lechner (Candlewick)

Welcome to Burrwood Forest, where a village of seed pods are busy having adventures! There are friends like Sticky Burr and Mossy Burr, who stick together, and bad seeds like Scurvy Burr, who irritates them every chance he gets. Watch out for wild dogs and maze trees, loyal insects, and escapes on the fly in a gently quirky graphic storybook that readers are sure to get stuck on. Meet Sticky Burr, his unshakable friends, and his prickly foes in a beguiling graphic storybook guaranteed to grab young readers. This book follows Sticky Burr’s many adventures in his forest home, interspersed with pages from his own journal where he reflects on the whimsy and wonder of his small existence.  Also look for Sticky Burr: The Prickly Peril

Awards: Beverly Cleary Children’s Choice Award, Oregon Assoc. of School Libraries

Adventures in Cartooning

by James Sturm, Andrew Arnold, & Alexis Frederick-Frost (First Second)

In this action-packed cartooning adventure, kids will have as much fun making comics as reading them! Once upon a time . . . a princess tried to make a comic. And with the help of a magical cartooning elf, she learned how – well enough to draw her way out of an encounter with a dangerous dragon, near-death by drowning, and into her very own adventure! Like the princess, young readers will discover that they already have the drawing and writing skills it takes to make a comic – they just need a little know-how. And Adventures in Cartooning supplies just that. Kids will love the whole Adventures in Cartooning series.

Awards: Booklist Top 10 Graphic Novel for Youth; Booklist Top Ten Art Book for Kids; American Library Association Notable Children’s Books; ALSC Notable Children’s Book

Azzi in Between

by Sarah Garland (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)

Azzi and her parents are in danger. They have to leave their home and escape to another country on a frightening journey by car and boat. In the new country they must learn to speak a new language, find a new home and Azzi must start a new school. With a kind helper at the school, Azzi begins to learn English and understand that she is not the only one who has had to flee her home. She makes a new friend, and with courage and resourcefulness, begins to adapt to her new life. But Grandma has been left behind and Azzi misses her more than anything. Will Azzi ever see her grandma again? Drawing on her own experience of working among refugee families, renowned author and illustrator Sarah Garland tells, with tenderness and humour, an exciting adventure story to be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

Awards: Endorsed by Amnesty International, Little Rebels Children’s Book Award,