Children’s and YA Graphic Literature

This bibliography is drawn from books published between 1995 and 2020. While some award-winners and bestsellers are included, part of the goal is to feature underappreciated gems. For more recent titles, visit Cynsations.

ETERNAL: ZACHARY’S STORY by Cynthia Leitich Smith, illustrated by Ming Doyle (Candlewick, 2013). Cynthia Leitich Smith’s New York Times bestseller is reimagined as a graphic novel seen through the eyes of Zachary, teenage guardian angel. Reckless guardian angel Zachary has an unusual assignment. He’s meant to save the soul of Miranda, high-school theater wannabe turned glamorous royal vampire. Completely devoted to Miranda, Zachary takes his demotion to human form in stride, taking a job as the princess’s personal assistant. Of course, this means he has to balance his soul-saving efforts with planning the Master’s fast-approaching Deathday gala. Vivid illustrations by Ming Doyle elevate this darkly funny love story to a new dramatic level with bold black-and-white panels. More on this title from Cynsations. Ages 12-up. Compiled from promotional materials.

MANGAMAN by Barry Lyga, illustrated by Colleen Doran (Houghton Mifflin, 2011).  Teenager Ryoko Kiyama has entered our world through a mysterious rift, and it seems that he’s trapped here. But the redoubtable Dr. Capeletti is working on a Machine to return Ryoko to his world. In the meantime, it’s decided that rather than cooling his heels in a government compound, he should get out and experience life as a normal high-school student. The problem? He’s from a Manga universe… A fun story and a clever and sophisticated “meta” treatment of both American and Japanese-style comics. Ages 14-up. Recommendation by Greg Leitich Smith.

SUPER INDIAN by Arigon Starr (Wacky Productions Unlimited, 2012). Hubert Logan was an ordinary Reservation boy until he ate tainted commodity cheese infused with Rezium, a secret government food enrichment additive. Known as Super Indian, Hubert fights evil forces who would overtake the Reservation’s resources and population. Assisted by his trusty sidekicks Mega Bear and Diogi, they fight crime the way they know how—with strength, smarts and humor. More on this title from Cynsations. Ages 12-up. Compiled from promotional materials. Look for more books in the series.

TANTALIZE: KIEREN’S STORY by Cynthia Leitich Smith, illustrated by Ming Doyle (Candlewick, 2011).  As a hybrid werewolf, Kieren is destined to join an urban Wolf pack and learn to master his shift. Soon, he’ll leave everything behind: home, school, his family, and Quincie, his human best friend . . . who’s beginning to be a whole lot more than a friend. For years, Kieren has managed to keep his desires– and his wolf– at bay. But when the chef at Quincie’ s family restaurant is brutally murdered, Kieren resolves to be there for her, even if it means being framed. Even if it means watching Quincie’s beloved restaurant morph into a vampire lair. But when the new chef begins wooing her, how long can Kieren control his claws? How long can he protect Quincie– and himself? In an elegant graphic edition featuring cinematic sequential art by debut artist Ming Doyle and lush, romantic cover art by Sam Weber, bestselling author Cynthia Leitich Smith re-envisions her delicious dark fantasy through wolfish eyes. Young Adult. More on this title from Cynsations. Ages 12-up. Compiled from promotional materials.

ZAHRA’S PARADISE by Amir, illustrated by Khalil (First Second, 2011).  This powerful graphic novel tells the story of the search for Mehdi, a nineteen year old caught up in the aftermath of Iran’s Green Revolution of 2009.  Last seen at the Freedom Square, his mother and his brother, a blogger, now search for him, trying to negotiate their way through the cruelty and fecklessness of the state bureaucracy… In addition to being a fine story, well-told and richly drawn, ZAHRA’S PARADISE does an excellent job of cutting through the headlines, bringing characters to life, and illuminating Iran’s recent history. Ages 14-up. Recommendation by Greg Leitich Smith.


Creating Graphic Literature & Recommended Reading Lists.

Perfect YA Comics for New Comics Readers by Alice Nuttal from Book Riot. PEEK: ” There are many stories out there that have all the best-known YA hallmarks – a teenage or young protagonist, fighting for what’s right in an unjust world or (sometimes and) falling for their first love while working out the kind of person they want to be.”

Adapting Prose to Comics Form by J.L. Bell from Oz and Ends. PEEK: “In answer to the question ‘What types of prose books are the most suited for adapting to the graphic format?’, three of those editors offered responses that seem typically gung-ho for fans of the medium.”

Forget Angry Superheroes: The Big Money is in Kids’ Comics by Abraham Riesman from Vulture. PEEK: “That shift was the result of decisions made by librarians, teachers, kids’-book publishers, and people born after the year 2000. Abruptly, the most important sector in the world of sequential art has become graphic novels for young people. Call it the Youth-Comics Explosion. It’s redefining the future of an entire art form.”
Comics for Kids


Kids, Comics, and Comic-Con International by Calvin Reid from Publishers Weekly. PEEK: “Comics aren’t just for adults at Comic-Con International. Big announcements for children’s comics share time with blockbuster movies and roaming hordes of costumed fans.”

Why Do Comics Matter? — The Zena Sutherland Lecture by Gene Luen Yang from The Horn Book. PEEK: “The central dynamic of Superman’s existence is his dual identity. Most of the time, when people see him on the streets of Metropolis, they think he’s an “average American.” Deep down, though, he knows he’s not. He knows he’s from another place. He knows he’s an alien, an immigrant, a foreigner.”