14 Under 14: Graphic Novels for Boys

I finally wrote a companion post to 14 Graphic Novels for Girls Under 14! That post continues to be popular, so I’m adding one for the boys. This one is actually much easier because there are a LOT of high-quality graphic novels that appeal to middle school boys. I’m purposely not including the already-popular series manga like Pokemon, Naruto, DragonBall Z, Bleach, etc. I am also focusing more on graphic novels that librarians, teachers, and parents might not already know about. This post today focuses on graphics that aren’t household names…yet.

Many of these will also appeal to the girls also, though some may take a little nudge from a librarian or favorite teacher.

Cardboard (Doug TenNapel)
Doug TenNapel is among my favorite graphic novelists, and my boy readers especially love his books. The artwork is full-color, featuring clean lines and expressive faces. The unique stories have made me laugh out loud, as well as gasp in surprise.
Read my reviews of TenNapel’s Cardboard and Bad Island.
American Born Chinese (Gene Luen Yang)
Combines three parallel stories in a unique twist. We have the traditional Chinese story of the Monkey King, the story of Jin Wang, a Chinese-American boy in San Francisco, and Danny, a white American boy with an embarrassing Chinese cousin.
Read my review of American Born Chinese.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: The Graphic Novel (Ransom Riggs and Cassandra Jean)
All I have to do is show the photos in the regular novel, and this trilogy is SOLD! I have three copies of the novel and one copy of the graphic novel, and they are always checked out. With the movie coming out in September 2016, I’m going to need to buy even more. Sequel graphic Hollow City is set for publication on July 12, 2016.

Read my review of Miss Peregrine’s: the Graphic Novel.

War Brothers (Sharon McKay)
Don’t know much about the child soldiers of Uganda? Read a little about it–it’s definitely a “wow” moment. War Brothers doesn’t move on its own like some of the other titles. When I booktalk this with students, it is important that they know what happened to these children.
(War Brothers book trailer uses actual scenes from the novel)
Steve Jobs, Insanely Great (Jesse Hartland)
Beautifully simple illustrations help make this biography of Steve Jobs a hit with my students. Like the others, it stays checked out constantly.
Baba Yaga’s Assistant (Marika McCoola, Emily Carroll)
My dad loves to tell scary stories, and I remember being very afraid of his Baba Yaga witch laugh! Many students today do not know this old Russian story of a witch who eats children and lives on a house on chicken legs. Enlighten them!

Like my dad, I also love telling the Baba Yaga story (sadly, I don’t have his creepy witch laugh). Baba Yaga by Margaret Phinney is also a fun read. This picture book is a long, illustrated poem, so with a class, I only read it up to where Trina gets captured and put in the cell. Hooks ’em every time!

Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto, Vol 1 (Nami Sano)
High school freshman Sakamoto is cool, confident, and classy. Nothing can shake the unassailable Sakamoto, the coolest kid in school. A quirky story for quirky readers.

(Video trailer for quirky graphic Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto, vol. 1)

Last of the Sand Walkers (Jay Hosler)
A team of beetles led by researcher beetle Lucy sets out to discover what’s beyond their beetle civilization. And discover they are not alone in the world. A unique story that’s perfect for fans of science and insects.
Bad Machinery series (John Allison)
This series started as a web comic. It’s about two groups of friends–3 boys and 3 girls–who are each trying to solve a local mystery. Turns out, the mysteries intertwine with one another. My 9-year old read all three of my school’s Bad Machinery books in just two days. He then took one of them to his school librarian, and asked her if they could get it for the library. She borrowed the book from him, read it, and decided to order the series. Proud Mama moment there!
(Two girls–self-proclaimed twins-tweens-geeks–
review John Allison’s Bad Machinery series)
Rot & Ruin: Warrior Smart (Jonathan Maberry)
Holy smokes! Rot & Ruin now has a graphic novel! How did I not know that? I LOVED Rot & Ruin, and so do my students! We are doing a zombie apocalypse right now with our Year7 students (6th grade), and this would have been prefect for my zombie booktalk last week. I need it NOW!
Starlight (Mark Millar, Goran Parlov)
Forty years ago, Duke McQueen (how’s that for a hero name?!) saved an alien world from destruction. Now, he’s grown up, and no one believes his story. But when an strange child from the planet he saved comes asking him for help, can Duke reclaim his ability to be a hero?
Bunny Vs. Monkey (Jamie Smart)
Bunny and his friends are doing just fine, living in their little woodland world. Until a group of researchers crash-land a space craft into the middle of the woodland. The monkey inside, believing he is alone on another planet, wreaks havoc.
Copper (Kazu Kibuishi)
And this is why I love doing these list posts! As with the Rot & Ruin graphic above, I had NO IDEA this Amulet author had another book until I started researching for this post. A boy and his talking dog have adventures and philosophical conversations together. The presence of subtle adult humor reminds me of the old Sherman and Mr. Peabody cartoons.

The Lost Boy (Greg Ruth)
This one sounds a bit like Kibuishi’s Amulet series, which is always checked out and on-hold at my school. Nate moves into a new house and finds a tape recorder and a note addressed to him under the floorboards in his room.
Join the discussion! What graphic novels are popular with your middle school boys?

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