Five graphic novels to add to your collection

Published on: 12 June 2023

Author-illustrator Jerry Craft recommends some amazing graphic novels you’re bound to love.

As I celebrate the release of School Trip, my third graphic novel in the New Kid saga, I’d like to take a moment to share the love.  Here are a few of my current favourite graphic novels that you may also enjoy.

Sunshine by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

I LOVE stories about good kids. And this is one of them. It’s an amazing follow-up to his National Book Award finalist graphic novel Hey, Kiddo. Another one of my favourites. It tells a wonderful story of when author-illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka was in high school and spent a summer as a counsellor at a camp for seriously ill kids and their families. It’s always such a treat to see kids relating to their family and peer with actual emotion. Especially since teens are often portrayed as being selfish and preoccupied. It shows kids that it is indeed okay to care about others. Lots of heart and good feels.

A First Time for Everything by Dan Santat

Okay, I’m not going to lie. When Dan Santat told me that he was doing a graphic novel about when he was in middle school and took a trip to Europe, I was mortified. Especially since it was coming out BEFORE my graphic novel, School Trip, about kids going to Paris for a week. But it’s very different. And VERY good. Once again, it is full of characters that kids will have no problem relating to. And an innocence that readers will find endearing. It’s a really great story that will have kids root for the underdog. Okay, Dan, we can still be friends.

Hoops: A Graphic Novel by Matt Tavares

I also love books with female leads that don’t seem like “girl books”. And I love books with male leads that don’t seem like “boy books”. This is one of those books. Hoops is the story of a high school girls basketball team in their rookie season. And even though they don’t have the fancy uniforms, the big crowds, or the nice gym that the boy’s team has, they have every bit as much drive and determination. And it’s contagious. One of the things that I enjoyed the most about Hoops is that even though the girls are not treated the same, it never comes across as a “woe is me” story.

Leon the Extraordinary by Jamar Nicholas

Another really good book about a really good kid. Leon goes to a school where many of the kids have superpowers. Unfortunately, he isn’t one of them. But what he lacks in not being able to fly, or shooting beams out of his eyes, he makes up with compassion. Leon always looks out for the little guy. Or the little girl. Even though for the most part, he is one of them. It’s also nice to see an African-American protagonist who is not having to carry the weight of an entire people on his shoulders. He’s just a kid who wants to look out for other kids. Oh, yeah, and it’s funny!

Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas

My list definitely wouldn’t be complete without this next one, especially since I wrote the cover blurb: “Combines wonderful characters and history to create a story that will make you want to dive right in!”  Bree can’t wait for her first day at her new middle school until she’s forced to take swimming. One of her greatest fears! But to make matters worse, swimming is also one of the most popular sports in her new community. Ugh! With a little coaxing, a LOT of practice, and some solid friendships, she sets out to turn the school’s failing team around.

I really like these books because they all put really well-rounded characters in situations that are off the beaten path. In School Trip, I set out to do the same by showing kids of colour getting a chance to see the world and become global citizens. Something that I almost never saw as a kid. So as a result, I didn’t think it was a realistic goal to have.

So if you want to give kids, or yourself, some really great stories and characters to relate to, pack your bags, your swim trunks, your superhero gear, and your basketball and join in on the fun!

School Trip by Jerry Craft is out now.


Bookbuzz is a reading programme from BookTrust that aims to help schools inspire a love of reading in 11 to 13-year-olds. Participating schools give their students the opportunity to choose their own book to take home and keep from a list of 16 titles.

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