Graphic novels are here to stay! Many parents will be familiar with big names like Captain Underpants, Dogman and The Wimpy Kid, but there is a bumper crop of homegrown graphic novels by Canadian creators that your kids will love, covering a whole range of topics and genres. My original list had 10 titles, but 2 did not make the live broadcast. I’ve added them in here because they are too fun to miss!
Watch the full segment here.
SCAREDY SQUIRREL IN A NUTSHELL (Tundra) marks the return of a classic Canadian kidlit character in a fresh new graphic novel format. Scaredy Squirrel is the original social distancer, and given his wide range of fears, he loves to be prepared. This series is a gentle way for kids to address nerves and anxiety and this new format will reach even more readers in need of Scaredy’s comforting message. BURT THE BEETLE DOESN’T BITE (Kids Can Press) is the latest from BINKY THE SPACECAT creator Ashley Spires. Regardless of your feelings on bugs, it’s hard not to love Burt, who is on a quest to figure out what his superpower is. Along the way, creator Ashley Spires includes a ton of fun insect facts that kids will love.
SIMON AND CHESTER: SUPER SLEEPOVER (Tundra) is the second book in one of my fave buddy comedies. Simon is a mystery writing, wise-cracking ghost and Chester is his human friend. This very funny series also navigates common childhood anxieties such as attending your first sleepover party (Chester) and not-so-common (yet still relatable!) ghost worries, such as preparing for a ghost inspection (Simon). WEENIE, FRANK AND BEANS: MAD ABOUT MEATLOAF (Tundra) has a Pixar, Secret Life of Pets feel to it and is the first in a new series about a meatloaf-loafing Weiner dog and his two friends. The characters and facial expressions on these pets make me laugh out loud every time!
For kids nine and up, I have 6 new titles that represent a wide range of genres and interests. First, two contemporary stories that deal with mental health and social emotional learning. LIVING WITH VIOLA (Annick) is the story of new kid and Asian-Canadian Livy, a budding artist who worries about living up to her family’s expectations. Livy’s anxiety is personifed as a character named Viola, an effective device to help elucidate what it feels like to live with anxiety. BAD SISTER (First Second) is based on author Charise Mericle Harper’s own relationship with her brother and navigates complicated sibling dynamics and what it means to be ‘good’ or ‘bad.’
The next pairing look at racism in Canada, past and present. In Thomas King’s BORDERS (HarperCollins Canada), a mother and son spend days going back and forth between the US-Canadian border because they refuse to identify as Canadian or American, only as Blackfoot. This novel is an adaptation of one of Thomas King’s short stories and sparks necessary conversation about identity and belonging. THE GOOD FIGHT (Scholastic Canada) takes place in Toronto and is based on the true story of the Christie Pitts riots that took place in 1933, when members of the so-called Pit Gang and Swastika Clubs attacked mostly Jewish attendees of a baseball game. This is an important and little-known piece of Canadian history with a Newsies vibe.
Just in time for spooky season, here are two graphic novels with slightly spooky premises and lots of Halloween-appropriate hijinx. PARANORTHERN AND THE CHAOS BUNNY A-HOP-CALYPSE (HMH) takes place in a cozy supernatural town currently over-run by adorable but problematic chaos bunnies and CURSE OF THE SCAREWOLF: LUNCH CLUB (Scholastic Canada) is the second adventure featuring the misfit Lunch Club members, this time squaring off against a party-crashing werewolf.
Happy reading, everyone!