1. New Kid by Jerry Park

                    Book Summary: Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of                     his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire                           grade.

 

                    As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn                         between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood                             friends and staying true to himself?

 

This graphic novel surprised me!  Too many graphic novels have weak story lines, lack believable emotion and experiences, and have illustrations that look crude and clumsy.  But, not NEW KID!  The plot sucked me in, but it was the story-the emotional journey--that kept me reading; so much so that I read the entire book in one sitting!

 

New Kid broke the glass ceiling for graphic novels when it won the Newbery Award in 2020.  

 

2. El Deafo by CeCe Bell

                    Book Summary: Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece's                     class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Too bad it                     also seems certain to repel potential friends. 

 

                    I LOVED this book!  El Deafo is the true life story of author CeCe Bell, who lost her hearing from Meningitis at age four.  The book takes us on her                         journey as she navigates a new normal.  The cartoon-like, colorful illustrations are charming and add to the uplifting tone of the book.  Read this                           book!  You won’t be disappointed. 

 

3. This Was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews.  330 pages. 

                     Book Summary: It's the night of the annual Autumn Equinox Festival, when the town gathers to float paper lanterns down the river. Legend has it                        that after drifting out of sight, they'll soar off to the Milky Way and turn into brilliant stars, but could that actually be true? This year, Ben and his                      classmates are determined to find out where those lanterns really go, and to ensure success in their mission, they've made a pact with two simple                            rules: No one turns for home. No one looks back.

 

                     The plan is to follow the river on their bikes for as long as it takes to learn the truth, but it isn't long before the pact is broken by all except for Ben                          and (much to Ben's disappointment) Nathaniel, the one kid who just doesn't seem to fit in.

 

Together, Nathaniel and Ben will travel farther than anyone has ever gone, down a winding road full of magic, wonder, and unexpected friendship*.

 

*And a talking bear.

I was immediately sucked into the alternative universe that defines THIS WAS OUR PACT.  The story started out normal enough, but became charmingly bizarre starting in chapter 2.  This compelling story is accompanied by illustrations that are absolutely luscious!

   

4. Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

                    Book Summary: Twelve-year-old Astrid has always done everything with her best friend Nicole. So when Astrid signs up for roller derby camp, she                       assumes Nicole will too. But Nicole signs up for dance camp with a new friend instead, and so begins the toughest summer of Astrid's life. There are                       bumps and bruises as Astrid learns who she is without Nicole...and what it takes to be a strong, tough roller girl.

 

                    Roller Girl has a action packed plot that moves the strong story along at a brisk pace.  I loved reading about a girl who is not a slave to gender                             stereotypes.  Main character Astrid is not a quitter, she’s a survivor.  How refreshing!

 

5. Akissi: Tales of Mischief Book 1 by Abouet & Sapin

                     Book Summary: This collection of the hilarious Akissi comics by critically acclaimed author Marguerite Abouet will delight young readers with its                          cheeky protagonist and the mischief she gets up to in her West African village.

 

                     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!

 

                     This book is a delight!  Akissi is the quintessential ‘kid sister’.  She wants to be part of the action and has an unquenchable curiosity. She’s annoyingly persistent (much to the consternation of her brother Fofana) and positively charming!

 

6. Hey Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

                    Book Summary: In kindergarten, Jarrett Krosoczka's teacher asks him to draw his family, with a mommy and a daddy. But Jarrett's family is much                         more complicated than that. His mom is an addict, in and out of rehab, and in and out of Jarrett's life. His father is a mystery -- Jarrett doesn't know                       where to find him, or even what his name is. Jarrett lives with his grandparents -- two very loud, very loving, very opinionated people who had                           thought they were through with raising children until Jarrett came along.

 

                    Jarrett goes through his childhood trying to make his non-normal life as normal as possible, finding a way to express himself through drawing even                       as so little is being said to him about what's going on. Only as a teenager can Jarrett begin to piece together the truth of his family, reckoning with his mother and tracking down his father.

 

Hey, Kiddo is a profoundly important memoir about growing up in a family grappling with addiction, and finding the art that helps you survive.

 

This book broke my heart.  Author Jarret Krozockza shares his family history, but tells the painful story with great compassion.  The monochromatic illustrations set the tone for this important work.  This book is a MUST READ!  

 

**All book summary’s from: www.goodreads.com

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