2020 Favorite Graphic Novels

It’s book list season! I’ve read a lot this year, and I am excited to highlight my favorite releases of 2020. I’m thrilled to share my 2020 Favorite Graphic Novels.

I love graphic novels! I wasn’t a graphic novel reader until library school, but I have dived into this genre–graphic novels consume most of my reading (only beat by maybe picture books). The mix of text and illustrations creates such a unique experience that is different from reading a chapter book. At my library, we shelve graphic novels together in their own area. These circulate extremely well–I review this section for condition and circulation each year, and at most I find a handful of titles that have only checked out three times. Many books check out ten times or more (even during a pandemic year!). Some of our most popular series include Dog Man, Baby-Sitters Club, Amulet, and anything written by Raina Telgemeier.

These lists are personal. The graphic novels that stand out for me may not be your favorites–and that is okay! We each have our own reading preferences. Also, I very well may have missed some great titles that were released over the last year–so make sure to check out all of the great lists all over the internet, and please share your favorites in the comments!

2020 Favorite Graphic Novels

Amazon.com: Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir (9780062685094):  Ha, Robin, Ha, Robin: Books

Almost American Girl

by Robin Ha
Gr. 7+. Robin never expects her family’s vacation to Huntsville, Alabama to turn into a permanent move–all of her friends, her belongings, and her life are back in Seoul, Korea. Robin doesn’t understand English, but suddenly she is dropped off at a new American school where she struggles to keep up. Home isn’t any better–her stepfamily doesn’t seem to like her, and Robin does not want to talk to her mother after she forced them to move. This memoir explores the very real struggles of trying to adjust to life in a new country.

Anti/Hero: Quinn, Kate Karyus, Lunetta, Demitria, Gil, Maca: 9781401293253:  Amazon.com: Books

by Kate Karyus Quinn & Demitria Lunetta and illustrated by Maca Gil
Gr. 3-5. Piper and Sloane don’t travel in the same friend groups at school. Piper is filled with energy and loves sports; Sloan much prefers getting nearly perfect grades in her classes. Their lives at home are very different too, with Piper living with her loving Abuela, while Sloan is determined to come up with the extra money to help her struggling single mom pay the bills. But they both have their own secrets, and when they end up on the opposite sides of a heist gone wrong, a fancy piece of tech causes them to switch bodies. Can they work together to figure out how to get their lives back?

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Aster and the Accidental Magic
by Thom Pico
Gr. 3-5. Aster expects moving to the middle of nowhere to be super boring. Her parents are busy with some work project and her house is just surrounded by hills and more hills. When Aster starts to wander those hills, she discovers birds and trees and sheep and…magic? When Aster runs into a mysterious old woman herding dogs, Aster starts to realize things are a little strange. But when Aster discovers a trickster spirit in the forest who gives Aster three wishes…well, things are about to get really interesting and a whole lot more fun.

Beetle & the Hollowbones | Book by Aliza Layne, Natalie Riess, Kristen  Acampora | Official Publisher Page | Simon & Schuster

Beetle & the Hollowbones
by Aliza Layne
Gr. 4-6. Beetle just wants to sneak out of her homeschooling to hang out with her best friend, the quiet Blob Ghost. Blob Ghost hangs out at the local mall, which he is forced to haunt due to….something neither of them can figure out or discover. When Beetle’s old best friend, Kat, returns to town for some witch training with Beetle’s aunt, Beetle wants to spend even less time at home with the perfect Kat. Things grow even worse when Blob Ghost’s mall might be torn down. If they can’t figure out what tethers Blob Ghost to the mall, when the mall is destroyed, Blob Ghost will be too. Forever.

Cat's Cafe: Tarpley, Matt: 9781524855048: Amazon.com: Books

Cat’s Cafe
by Matt Tarpley
Gr. 5+. Meet the adorable patrons of Cat’s coffee shop. Each has their own troubles–from anxiety to coffee addiction–but no matter what the situation, Cat is always ready to lend a supportive ear. Absolutely adorable and filled with love, friendship, and acceptance.

City of Secrets: Ying, Victoria: 9780593114490: Amazon.com: Books

City of Secrets
by Victoria Ying
Gr. 4-5. Ever Barnes protects the Switchboard Operating Facility, an amazing building that connects the people in his city, but also holds its own secrets. Hannah, the daughter of the switchboard building’s owner, finds Ever intriguing, and with the help of an employee, Lisa, she manages to track him down and convince him he needs a friend. Soon, the two realize their lives are more tangled than they could have imagined, with Ever being chased by menacing assassins, Hannah’s dad keeping his own secrets, and their co-conspirator Lisa being much more than they thought. In fact the whole city has its secrets—and it’s up to the kids to figure them out, fast.

Class Act: Craft, Jerry, Craft, Jerry: 9780062885500: Amazon.com: Books

Class Act
by Jerry Craft
Gr. 5-8. New Kid was my dream Newbery winner, and the sequel does not disappoint. Readers get more detailed glimpses into the lives of Jordan, Liam, and especially Drew, with even a touch more character development from Andy. Drew takes center stage here, with a different perspective on his classmates than Jordan. So many real issues are discussed in ways that never feel preachy, with Craft’s appealing artwork balancing humor and reality (race, bullying, class differences, microaggressions, friendship, and more).

Consent (for Kids!): Boundaries, Respect, and Being in Charge of YOU:  Brian, Rachel: 9780316457736: Amazon.com: Books

Consent (for Kids!): Boundaries, Respect, and Being in Charge of YOU
by Rachel Brian
Gr. 3-6. Learn all about consent, body autonomy, how to set boundaries, and ways to respect others in this amazing, colorful guide. Think about your own behavior and how you need to practice consent every day. Perfect beginning guide for kids and families.

Corpse Talk: Groundbreaking Women: DK: 9780744023572: Amazon.com: Books

Corpse Talk: Groundbreaking Women
by Adam & Lisa Murphy
Gr. 4-7. Join your host (and author) Adam Murphy in a talk show starring the corpses of astonishing women throughout history. Each star receives a two-page spread following the style of a typical talk show (including the standard puns and bad jokes) before another spread or two detailing an element of their time or life, such as the layout of the building Anne Frank lived in, an overview of Mongolian wrestling moves, or an explanation of the golden ratio. Features 17 women from an Egyptian pharaoh to empresses, queens, pirates, con artists, and more.

Amazon.com: Dancing at the Pity Party (9780525553021): Feder, Tyler: Books

Dancing at the Pity Party
by Tyler Feder
Gr. 8+. Follow Tyler’s journey with her mom–from her mom’s first oncology appointment through her cancer treatment and to life after her mom’s death. Filled with so, so much emotion, but I particularly appreciate that the voice here is young. So heartbreaking, but also filled with moments of humor and joy that will resonate.

The Deep & Dark Blue – Niki Smith

The Deep & Dark Blue
by Niki Smith
Gr. 4-7. A political coup that leaves their beloved grandfather murdered causes twins Hawke and Grayson to run for their lives. They hide among the new trainees in the Communion of Blue, taking on new identities as Hanna and Grayce. While they try to piece together what atrocities led to their home burning to the ground, the twins also learn more about themselves. Hawke longs to return to his old life, but Grayce realizes she wants to stay in this world that lets her be herself.

Diana: Princess of the Amazons (Wonder Woman): Hale, Shannon, Hale, Dean,  Ying, Victoria: 9781401291112: Amazon.com: Books

Diana: Princess of the Amazons
by Shannon Hale & Dean Hale and illustrated by Victoria Ying
Gr. 3-4. Diana loves her life on Themyscira, but lately she has been feeling more and more alone. She really wants another kid to play with, but that is impossible–or is it? When Diana makes her own wish on some clay, and it turns into a living girl her age, she is delighted. But also confused. Her new friend is great, but they aren’t the nicest, and sometimes they encourage Diana to do things Diana is pretty sure are wrong. What has Diana created?

Amazon.com: Displacement (9781250193537): Hughes, Kiku: Books

by Kiku Hughes
Gr. 7+. When on a family vacation to San Francisco, Kiku suddenly finds herself dramatically body-swapped with a young woman at a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II. Kiku slips in and out of the modern day and the past, not sure what is happening. Eventually, she realizes that her time in the past is connected with her late grandmother, Ernestina, who was forced to live at the very camp Kiku keeps time-traveling to.

Amazon.com: Dog Man: Grime and Punishment: From the Creator of Captain  Underpants (Dog Man #9) eBook: Pilkey, Dav, Pilkey, Dav: Kindle Store

Dog Man Grime and Punishment
by Dav Pilkey
Gr. 2-4. Yes, I know you are aware of Dog Man, but I am a huge fan of this series, and this particular book left me teary eyed. Dog Man has all kinds of villains to defeat in this book, and he needs the help of all of his friends. Petey has moved through quite a redemption arc, and this book gets quite serious with a deep conversation about forgiveness and loss between Petey and Lil Petey over the actions of Petey’s father and the death of Petey’s mother. Please don’t write these books off as something slapstick or just a Captain Underpants spinoff–there is so much heart here, in this world of living spray and cloned kittens.

Dungeon Critters: Riess, Natalie, Goetter, Sara: 9781250195470: Amazon.com:  Books

Dungeon Critters
by Natalie Riess & Sara Goetter
Gr. 3-5. Meet the Dungeon Critters: Juniper – The healer. Nervous in large crowds. Loves botany. Terrible at lying. Looks eerily similar to the reclusive Duchess Helena von Fancypaws. Rose – Arson loving cat. Doubles as a defense attorney when needed. May have a tiny crush on Juniper. Prince Chirp – Heiress to the throne of the [redacted] Kingdom. Impulsive. Hates to apologize. Tends to not think before acting. Avoids responsibility. Goro – Gentle giant. Generally quiet, but when he speaks, his words are profound. These four, with the occasional assistance of other creatures who are quickly forgotten (even by the four main characters), are determined to discover the nefarious plot of the (maybe?) evil Baron Foxworthy.

Amazon.com: Flamer (9781627796415): Curato, Mike, Curato, Mike: Books

by Mike Curato
Gr. 8+. Aiden is just trying to survive another summer camp with his Boy Scout Troup. It’s the summer between middle school and high school, which is a particularly big jump for Aiden, because he decided to leave his Catholic middle school to attend public high school (his first time attending a public school). Aiden got picked on a lot at his old school and by his fellow Boy Scouts here at summer camp. They call him gay–among other terms–because his voice and behaviors often seem feminine. But Aiden is confident he isn’t gay because gay boys like other boys. Plus, gay boys get made fun of. Gay boys can’t serve mass in Catholic church. Aiden can’t be gay because being gay is unsafe.

Go with the Flow: Schneemann, Karen, Williams, Lily: 9781250305725:  Amazon.com: Books

Go with the Flow
by Lily Williams & Karen Schneemann
Gr. 5+. Friends Abby, Brit, Christine, and Sasha are tired of their school’s administration. Money can always be found for the football team, but pads and tampons can never be found in the bathrooms. After Sasha gets her period at school and is short on supplies, Abby, Brit, and Christine adopt her into their friend group, and pull Sasha into a world of friendship and activism to make sure everyone who menstruates is treated fairly.

InvestiGators by John Patrick Green

by John Patrick Green
Gr. 2-4. Mango and Brash are both alligators and detective agents of the organization SUIT. Prepared for anything with their Very Exciting Spy Technology, these two investigators travel by toilet and sewer to solve crimes all over their city. They are on their first mission as a team to find out what happened to the missing Chef Mustachio. But after an explosion at the Science Factory, they are now trying to solve two mysteries at once. Plenty of laughs and so, so many puns will keep you at the edge of your seat.

Lightfall: The Girl & the Galdurian: Probert, Tim, Probert, Tim:  9780062990471: Amazon.com: Books

Lightfall: The Girl & the Galdurian
by Tim Probert
Gr. 4-5. Bea is happy with her magical life as the adopted granddaughter of the renowned Pig Wizard. One day, when walking in the woods, Bea meets Cad the Galdurian—a thought to be extinct species. Cad thinks that the Pig Wizard can help him find his people, but when the two of them return to Bea’s home, the wizard is nowhere to be found, leaving behind just the all important Endless Flame and a mysterious note. Soon, Bea and Cad are off on an adventure across the kingdom to track down the wizard. The further they travel, they more they realize that something is very wrong—Bea’s guardian may be in trouble and much of the world is slowly being clouded in eternal darkness

Long Way Down | Book by Jason Reynolds, Danica Novgorodoff | Official  Publisher Page | Simon & Schuster

Long Way Down
by Jason Reynolds and illustrated by Danica Novgorodoff
Gr. 7+. Will’s older brother was shot and killed outside of their apartment building. Will is determined to follow the rules passed down to him by his brother: (1) no crying, (2) no snitching, and (3) get revenge. Will has his older brother’s gun and, early the next morning, starts down their building’s elevator to get revenge on the person he is sure is his brother’s killer. But this elevator trip is like no other, with each floor revealing a new ghost from Will’s past, all with something to say.

Amazon.com: Max Meow Book 1: Cat Crusader (9780593121054): Gallagher, John:  Books

Max Meow: Cat Crusader
by John Gallagher
Gr. 2-4. Max was just a regular cat in Kittyopolis until he accidentally bites a radioactive space meatball. Suddenly Max has super powers—flying, strength, and more–and becomes the Cat Crusader. But Max’s new superpowers make him cocky, and he quickly leaves his best friend behind in his quest to save the world.

Measuring Up: LaMotte, Lily, Xu, Ann: 9780062973863: Amazon.com: Books

Measuring Up
by Lily LaMotte and illustrated by Ann Xu
Gr. 4-6. Cici just moved from Taiwan to Seattle with her family. She isn’t so sure about their move, especially since she will be missing her grandmother’s 70th birthday. Since she can’t go to A-ma, Cici decides to win the $1000 grand prize in a cooking competition to pay for A-ma’s plane ticket to come visit Cici in the United States. Cici loved to cook in Taiwan–she cooked with her A-ma a lot. So this should be easy–right?
The problem is, Cici only knows how to cook Taiwanese food, and that isn’t going to work for every round of the competition. Can Cici find a winning recipe? And just maybe, can she make a new friend along the way?

Amazon.com: Mellybean and the Giant Monster (9780593202548): White, Mike:  Books

Mellybean and the Giant Monster
by Mike White
Gr. 2-4. Lovable pup Mellybean loves to play games, even if her three cat housemates prefer to nap while their humans are away. While preparing to bury a shoe in the backyard, Melly discovers that her hole is a bit deeper than she could have imagined. She slips through into a magical world filled with kings, knights, and even a humongous rabbit named Narra. Narra isn’t so fond of humans, as they spend their time hunting her for the gold that flakes out of her eyes. But Melly is sure not all the humans in this magical world are bad–maybe they just haven’t yet discovered the power of a Good Sit.


My Video Game Ate My Homework
by Dustin Hansen
Gr. 3-4. Dewey is prepared to ace his science project by making the world’s coolest volcano, but everything goes wrong when his friend’s new video game system swallows his project. Literally. They turned on the games virtual reality software, and the game sucked his homework into a portal. And the only way to get it back? Dewey and his friends must enter the game, get new identities—and powers—and win.

Primer: Krajewski, Thomas, Jennifer Muro, Lusky, Gretel: 9781401296575:  Amazon.com: Books

by Jennifer Muro & Thomas Krajewski and illustrated by Gretel Lusky
Gr. 8+.  Ashley has a dark past, as the child of a supervillain who used to help her dad with his crimes. In her latest foster home, she discovers her guardians have a secret–special body paint that give the wearer superpowers. Of course Ashley has to try them out, but when the news catches her performing her superhero act, a lot of people are suddenly very interested in Ashley.

Amazon.com: Real Pigeons Fight Crime (Book 1) (9780593119426): McDonald,  Andrew, Wood, Ben: Books

Real Pigeons Fight Crime
by Andrew McDonald & Ben Wood
Gr. 2-3. Have you ever looked at a pigeon? Watched it do pigeon things? Pigeons might act kind of strange, but that’s because they are busy fighting crime and saving the world. This team of pigeons will use their disguise skills, superstrength, and more to solve extremely important mysteries such as where have all the bread crumbs gone? Who is kindnapping the city’s bats? And why is there chaos at the local food truck fair?

Science Comics: Crows: Genius Birds: Vanderklugt, Kyla: 9781626728028:  Amazon.com: Books

Science Comics: Crows: Bird Geniuses
by Kyla Vanderklugt
Gr. 8+. There are many wonderful non-fiction graphic novel series, and Science Comics is an excellent place to start. Each volume introduces a different topic: dinosaurs, the solar system, bats, cats, robots, and more, with at least four or five new books published each year. Crows is a particularly fun addition to the series, where your main character—a crow—teaches a local pet dog all about what makes crows special as the two team up to track down some especially delicious treats. Learn about how crows are able to make their own tools, lead complex social lives, never forget a human face, and more.

Séance Tea Party: Yee, Reimena: 9781984894151: Amazon.com: Books

Seance Tea Party
by Reimena Yee
Gr. 4-6. Lora feels left out as all of her friends seem to be growing up without her. Lora doesn’t want to grow up, and she is thrilled to discover a new (though also old) friend living in her house. Ghost girl Alexa is around Lora’s age, haunting Lora’s house, and just looking for a friend. The two become inseparable even as Lora begins to grow up on her own, and Alexa grows more and more curious about the past that she can’t remember.

Amazon.com: The Sewer Rat Stink (Geronimo Stilton Graphic Novel #1)  (9781338587302): Stilton, Geronimo, Angleberger, Tom, Angleberger, Tom:  Books

The Sewer Rat Stink
by Tom Angleberger & Elisabetta Dami
Gr. 2-4. You might think you know all about Geronimo Stilton, but I promise you have never seen him like this. In this all new interpretation of this familiar face, Geronimo is determined to solve another mystery. A horrible, stinky smell is taking over New Mouse City. No mouse can live like this-in fact everyone is moving out fast. Geronimo and Hercule head into the sewers beneath their home to investigate where this stench is coming from and who exactly is buying up all of the houses and businesses that have been deserted as people move out of town.

Amazon.com: Sherlock Bones and the Natural History Mystery (9780358311850):  Treml, Renee: Books

Sherlock Bones and the Natural History Mystery
by Renee Treml
Gr. 2-4. The royal blue diamond—the world’s largest gemstone—is missing from the State Natural History Museum! It’s up to museum resident Sherlock Bones to take the case. Sherlock Bones is, well, bones. He’s a tawny frogmouth skeleton on display at the museum, assisted by his trusty sidekick, a stuffed blue Indian ringneck parrot named Watts.
The game is afoot as these two must figure out who is stealing important items from the museum and how the thieves are getting away with it. Is their new assistant, Grace—a very real racoon with a craving for chocolate—an innocent bystander or guilty of the crime? If they can’t find the missing gem, the museum may be forced to close—meaning Bones and Watts will be packed away into storage.

Shirley and Jamila Save Their Summer (Shirley & Jamila): Goerz, Gillian:  9780525552864: Amazon.com: Books

Shirley & Jamila Save Their Summer
by Gillian Goerz
Gr. 4-6. Jamilia is getting ready for a lonely and boring summer living in a new neighborhood, until she meets longtime resident Shirley. Shirley’s a little strange and extremely perceptive, but Jamilia takes her up on her offer to get Jamilia out of science camp this summer. Soon, Jamilia is drawn into Shirley’s side job—as the neighborhood kid detective. A friendship and crime-solving partnership is born, starting with the case of the pet gecko that went missing from the local swimming pool.

Snapdragon: Leyh, Kat: 9781250171115: Amazon.com: Books

by Kat Leyh
Gr. 4-7. When Snapdragon goes searching for her dog, they meets the local Jacks doesn’t seem to be a real witch, but she sure is different—she collects roadkill, cleans their skeletons, and sells them online. Snap finds this creepy but also a little fascinating, and when Snap finds a group of abandoned baby opossums, they immediately go to Jacks for help. But the more Snap gets to know Jacks, the more Snap realizes that Jacks may have some real magic after all.

Twins by Varian Johnson


by Varian Johnson & Shannon Wright
Gr. 4-6. Twins and best friends Maureen and Francine have always done the exact same things—until they start middle school, when Fran is determined to set herself apart form her sister. Before she knows it, Maureen’s hurt feelings spiral into anger—and suddenly the girls are running against each other for Class President. Friendship lines have been drawn—but can either twin really win if it means hurting the other?

Yen Press Announces Svetlana Chmakova's “The Weirn Books"

The Weirn Books: Be Wary of the Silent Woods
by Svetlana Chmakova
Gr. 4-6. Allis goes to a special school for children who are weirn–kids who have a supernatural astral attached to them or other special abilities. Her friends notice a light at the creepy old schoolhouse where a bunch of children disappeared a few decades before–and suddenly, kids start disappearing again. Allis and her friends are determined to figure out what happened, and rescue everyone trapped inside that haunted house.

Witches of Brooklyn: Escabasse, Sophie: 9780593119273: Amazon.com: Books

Witches of Brooklyn
by Sophie Escabase
Gr. 4-5. Effie has lost her mom, her old home, and everyone she knows. She is dumped on the doorstep of two mysterious aunts she’s never met. The women are odd—working as herbalists and acupuncturists, creating all kinds of mysterious concoctions in the basement. Effie is just becoming comfortable with her new home and making a few new friends at school, when things take a particularly odd turn. Effie’s pop idol, musician Tily Shoo, arrives needing help. Effie learns that her aunts are well-known witches, and their magic might be the only thing that can save Tily. But as they all struggle to solve this mystery, they discover that Effie might have inherited some magic of her own.

The Worry (Less) Book: Feel Strong, Find Calm and Tame Your Anxiety by  Rachel Brian - Books - Hachette Australia

The Worry(Less) Book: Feel Strong, Find Calm and Tame Your Anxiety!
by Rachel Brian
Gr. 3-6. Everyone feels worried or anxious sometimes–but this book is here to help! Use this guide to practice identifying your anxiety and understanding how you can make sure it doesn’t control you, so you can always find your calm again.


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