A great post I read recently on the Nerdy Book Club blog reminded me of my own introduction to graphic novels. Like the author of the post, I, too, had devoured Archie and Friends comics. My siblings and I had inherited from our grandparents a stack of Archie comic books that had belonged to my uncles (who grew up in the ’70s). The comics were dated (I was a child of the ’90s), but I found them fascinating. Not yet a teenager myself, in reading about Archie and the gang, I could imagine myself in their teenage world. I urgently wanted to grow up and be part of that world.

Later, in college, I encountered complex graphic narratives like Maus and Y, The Last Man. These were a revelation for me. Comic books had evolved! These graphic novels were more than just a quick summer read. Like the novels I had by this time learned to love, they, too, could be deep, powerful and transformative.

Betty and Veronica Comic arrow Maus

My progression from Archie comic books of the ’70s to graphic novel masterpieces such as Maus by Art Spiegelman.

Today, young readers have a wealth of excellent and meaningful graphic novels from which to choose. Thinking back to my obsession with the high (dare I say superficial) drama of Archie’s Riverdale, I am beyond thrilled to see worthy role models and heartfelt stories for girls, in particular. The Nerdy post includes several stellar recommendations for girls (graphic novels are NOT just for boys!), and I have one more to add—Roller Girl (Grades 4-7, Lexile GN440) by Victoria Jamieson.

Screenshot of Nerdy Book Club Post

Screen shot of the recommendations from the Nerdy post.

I loved the film Whip It (a comedy starring Ellen Page in which a small-town girl finds her place after joining a big-city roller derby team), so I was immediately drawn to the new graphic novel about this sport. Roller derby is all about girls who kick butt—rough-and-tumble athletes whose fearlessness is compelling!

Roller Girl Comic

The lovable protagonist, Astrid, after her dream is realized.

In Roller Girl, after seeing a local Rose City Rollers competition, 12-year-old Astrid is determined to become a roller girl. Lucky for her, their junior team, the Rosebuds, holds a summer camp where she gets to test her skills. But, ugh, after the initial practice, Astrid learns that roller derby is really, really tough. Even tougher, though, is realizing that your best friend has other interests (like ballet and boys) that are decidedly different from your own! The summer is shaping up to be a real downer, but as Astrid perseveres she comes to gain more than just derby skills—she learns important things about herself, lessons about character and growing up.

Roller Girl Comic

Astrid and her Rosebud teammates. Check out their awesome names!

I love that this story—told in a typical “boy” format— focuses on an atypical girl who embraces a gritty sport. What’s more, the author herself is a powerful and talented woman. Not only is Victoria Jamieson a successful author/illustrator, but she’s also a roller girl herself! Read more about her.

 

*Roller Girl has been nominated for a Scout Award, Booksource Scout Awardan internal Booksource award. Booksource will nominate books throughout the year and then ask readers to vote on their favorites to determine the winners. The Scout Award is named in honor of the main character of Booksource’s most popular title, To Kill a Mockingbird. Read more about the awards here.


 

 

Booksource Book Recommendations

 

Fresh New Graphic Novels IntermediateFresh New Graphic Novels
Intermediate
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ALA Great Graphic Novels for Teens
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