Best Graphic Novels 2021 | SLJ Best Books

With a range of grade levels (from kindergarten to high school students) and genres (fantasy and horror, among others), there’s something for everyone in these 17 photo shoots.

Graphic novels

Baker, Harmony. Himawari house.
delusion. by the author. first second. ISBN 9781250235565.
9 August During a year in Tokyo, Japanese-American “Nao” reconnects with the country she left as a child, struggles to re-master her native language, and bonds with roommates and exchange students on trips of their own. Becker’s graceful, expressive illustrations convey the frustration of language and cultural barriers—and the joy of overcoming them.

Brown, Don. Bullet in the arm.
delusion. by the author. Abrams. ISBN 9781419750014.
5 August Narrated by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, an 18th century English poet and vaccination advocate, this well-illustrated presentation recounts vaccination innovations throughout history — including the COVID-19 vaccine. The book presents the information succinctly, and is decisive yet playful. The artwork is brilliantly rendered, with blue and brown tones adding a nostalgic touch to the clean, crisp layouts.

Fong, Rosina. Live with Viola.
delusion. by the author. Anick. ISBN 9781773215488.
4-8 . grams Levi’s fears, a middle school student, are so intense, she takes the form of Viola, the evil fantasy twin who mocks Levi’s every move. Fong’s vibrant, bustling illustrations immerse readers in Levi’s mindset—her problems and fears, but also her emotions and joys as she forges relationships. An honest and reassuring portrayal of anxiety.

Howard, Abby. Crossroads in the middle of the night.
delusion. by the author. Iron Circus. ISBN 9781945820687.

tow 7 – Howard keeps readers fascinated by this collection of comic horror stories. While ghouls and monsters are hideous, it is their ability to control feelings of loneliness, helplessness, and alienation that characterize this work; Its realistic dark black and white photographs and skillful use of shading heighten fears and heighten feelings.

Khor, Sheng Yen. The legend of Aunt Boo.
delusion. by the author. Penguin / Coquila. ISBN 9780525554882.
grams 5-8 Thirteen-year-old Mei comes face to face with the strength – and limitations – of stories as she, her father, and Chinese workers at a lumber camp in the 1880s grapple with anti-Asian sentiment and laws. With expressive and muted watercolors, this multifaceted historical work of fiction creates a delicate and beautiful balance in depicting subtle characters, interpersonal struggles, and systemic racism.

King Thomas. the border.
delusion. by Natasha Donovan. Little Brown. ISBN 9780316593069.
tow 7 When a mother and son refuse to give up their black-footed citizenship while attempting a road trip across the Canada-US border, they find themselves recognized as citizens of nowhere. King and Donovan’s gold-toned story of Aboriginal endurance is a simple but powerful reminder of the impact of colonial history.

Lewis, John and Andrew Aiden. He runs: Reserve one.
delusion. by L. Fury and Nate Powell. Abrams Comics. ISBN 9781419730696.
Gram 8 Ab In the wake of the events of the March trilogy, civil rights activist Lewis continues to stir up trouble. Decades of social progress threatened by a retaliatory wave of white supremacy, and Lewis’ nonviolent methods caused the movement to be challenged and perhaps abandoned in favor of direct action. Fury and Powell’s black and white artwork captures the frustrations of the Long Road to justice, as well as the power of a strong moral stance.

Liners. wildflowers;
delusion. by the author. Toon. ISBN 9781943145539.
K-Gr 3 – In the wake of a plane crash on a seemingly deserted island, three sisters explore the area only to find a series of mysteries and phenomena. Who left written messages for them to discover? Why are plants and animals so strange? This adorable and colorful ride celebrates childhood imagination.

Lloyd, Megan Wagner. Allergy.
delusion. by Michel May Nutter. Scholastic / Graphics. ISBN 9781338568912.
3-6 . grams Excited to adopt a new puppy, Maggie is horrified when she realizes she’s allergic to dogs — and a host of other animals. While searching for a hypoallergenic pet, she struggles to find her place in her family and discover a group of friends. Artwork and warm colors turn a serious medical topic into a relaxing journey for companionship.

McKinney, LL Nuba: real one.
delusion. by Robin Smith. DC Comics. ISBN 9781401296407.
Gram 8 Ab Living in a world hostile to her and her community, the Nuba teenage black superhero is forced to balance her need for self-preservation with her desire to defend those in trouble. Pink artwork often belies the struggles of the Nuba Pink. This poignant and poignant story reminds readers of the risks sometimes necessary to trying to build a better world.

Nguyen, Trang and Jet Zdong. Saving Syria: Chang and the sun bear.
delusion. by Jeet Zdong. communicate. ISBN 9780593353639.
4-6 . grams Inspired by Nguyen’s own experiences as a conservationist, this warmly realistic story follows the story of a young girl named Chang as she attempts to bring a sun bear named Sorya back into the wild. Merging traditional Vietnamese art with manga styles, lush scenes, elegant overlays, and diverse block panels mixed with fact-packed clips for a creative and engaging blend of fantasy and realism.

Rivera, Liam. I discovered: Jessica Cruz story.
delusion. By Steve CDC Comics. ISBN 9781779500519.
tow 7 Jessica has a lot going for her, but she and her family have a secret: they’re illegal immigrants. Ice raids in her neighborhood cause her anxiety to mount, and Aztec deities appear to her in dreams, guiding her by turning toward constructive and destructive solutions. Colors radiate off the page and convey the emotional tone of each scene in this work of self-discovery.

Smith, Nikki. The golden hour.
delusion. by the author. Little Brown. ISBN 9780316540377.
4-7 . grams New friendships and photography help Manuel deal with post-traumatic stress disorder and panic attacks after witnessing gun violence at school. The impressive artwork uses stark changes in color and fluidization of the painting to express emotion. Depicting resilience, vulnerability, and burgeoning homosexual romance, this is a stunning depiction of self-discovery in a rural setting.

Stanley, Stan. love dangers E: vol. 1.
delusion. by the author. Unni. ISBN 9781620108574.
Gram 8 Ab After being deceived by a bald cat, non-dual teen Amparo becomes trapped in the beautiful and dangerous shining world. Expressive art, with its angular and dramatic calligraphy, pops onto elegant black pages and backgrounds. Rich colours, lush details and haunting characters evoke an unforgettable world.

Vandoorne, Kitty. Monster friends.
delusion. by the author. Random / Draw. ISBN 9781984896827.
grams 2-5 After a frightening experience exploring a cave, Reggie, a shape-shifting monster, withdraws from the world, but everything changes when he meets a new friend while sitting at home. Vandoorne’s expressive illustrations bring to life a beautiful surreal setting, and her gentle story is interconnected by a subtle yet powerful message: With a good friend at one’s side, even the most difficult problems can be solved.

Waldo, Steve. little tales: Shell Quest.
delusion. by the author. Harper Alley. ISBN 9780063067837.
K-Gr 2 – Trying to make friends and get along with its peers, a shellless snail searches for its shell. Cheerful, earth-toned digital illustrations subtly communicate emotion, while back and front panels and bold block panels help new comics readers find their footing. The biggest message to the family that has been found is the message of victory.

Shaw, Wendy. Taedsong.
delusion. by the author. HarperAlley/The Quill Tree. ISBN 9780062955807.
grams 5-8 When Sophie is sent to her aunt’s house to learn magic in preparation for an important exam, she makes a bad first impression. Awkward, inexperienced, and plagued by self-doubt, she pales in comparison to her cousin Sage and Lir, the water dragon she befriends, but her family and new boyfriend help set her on a path of self-discovery. Gorgeous manga-style artwork and honest narration bring the magic of this book to life.


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