Tuesday, December 2, 2014

How to find the Ultimate Comic/Graphic Novel Gift for 2014

With holidays and gifting approaching, I present to you some wonderful graphic novel gift choices for kids of all ages.

[Please note: many of the books are being sold by  CBLDF- Comic Book Legal Defense Fund - and are signed editions to help battle book banning.  So, not only are you giving someone special, a special gift, you're helping a great organization. Where available, I've included a link to the CBLDF offer. I have also included links to the titles that have online classroom/discussion suggestions.]

I hope these links and titles are useful, the books and stories are truly awesome:

My 2014 holiday gift favorites for kids:

Sara Varon
Young fans are probably aware of Sara Varon’s work; she’s been making great kid’s books for several years now. We have signed copies of one of her “silent” graphic novels, Bake Sale (First Second), which is perfect for beginner readers. Here's a link for signed editions through CBLDF:  http://cbldf.myshopify.com/products/bk-bakesalesigned

Brother and sister team Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm have two extraordinary series of graphic novels for kids.  The first is Babymouse (Random House) about the trials and tribulations of elementary school students and teachers, as seen through the eyes of Babymouse, as spunky, lovable mouse who wrestles with popularity, quirky lockers, competition — in the school band, school play, math Olympics, and even the best birthday party ever — and more. The series has won multiple Children’s Choice awards, the 2006 Gryphon Award, the 2006 ALA Notable Children’s Book Award, and the 2006 New York Book Show Award. 

Jennifer and Matthew Holm
Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm also have a series, Squish (Random House) about a comic book-loving, Twinkie-eating, blubbery, super-swell amoeba “kid” who wrestles with good and evil in life around him, and learns about life’s responsibilities. Note that   Squish: Game On, is available as a signed edition by Jennifer and Matthew Holm through CBLDF: http://cbldf.myshopify.com/collections/signed-books/products/bk-squish-5

Jimmy Gownley's Amelia Rules! series is one of my favorites. It's an empowering, heart-warming story about Amelia Louise McBride who moves with her Mom to a small town in Pennsylvania to live with her uber-cool aunt Tanner, after her parents’ divorce.  Amelia, along with her friends Reggie, Pajamaman (or PJ), and Rhonda Bleenie (Amelia’s best frenemy) tackle all the world throws at them, with some guidance from Tanner, Amelia’s aunt, confidante, and former rock-star. Through laughs, challenges and spills, we all learn about friendship, family, about the “truths” of life, and about the joys of not taking anything too seriously – as long as there are people (as flawed as they may be) to provide support when necessary. A New York Times Bestseller, these books have also  been nominated for thirteen Eisner Awards (four nominations in 2008 alone), five Harvey Awards, and was a short list finalist for the Howard E. Day Prize in 2002. Jimmy Gownley also has a new book The Dumbest Idea Ever (Scholastic, 2014) - a memoir of his days in Catholic School and how comic books changed his life.

Raina Telgemeier has some awesome graphic novels (Scholastic Graphix): Smile, Drama, and Sisters. Smile is an autobiographical coming-of-age graphic novel memoir, Raina Telgemeier ruminates with humor and honesty on the tumultuous challenges and perils of her teen years: from the trauma of falling one night on her way home from a Girl Scout meeting severely injuring her front teeth, to dealing with boys, earthquakes and the true meaning of friendship. smilecover
 It's a New York Times bestseller; winner of the 2011 Eisner Award for Best Publication for Teens; winner of the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award, 2012; winner of the Maine Student Book Award, 2012; finalist for the Children’s Choice Book Award, 2011; ALA Notable Children’s Book, 2011; Honor Book for the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards, 2010; Kirkus Best Book of 2010; and the New York Times Editors’ Choice, 2010. Drama is about Raina's life in her highschool Drama club, and Sisters, Telgemeier's latest volume is about her relationship with her sister. Note that Drama hardcover, signed by Raina Telgemeier is available through CBLDF at: http://cbldf.myshopify.com/collections/signed-books/products/drama-hardcover-signed-and-sketched-by-raina-telgemeier

I also LOVE, love, love  Lumberjanes (BOOM! 2014) a comic book series by Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson and  Brooke Allen. It is about five friends, Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley who are determined to have an awesome summer together...and they’re not gonna let any insane quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way! Lumberjanes has wonderfully empowering female characters, an awesome camp counselor and director, who support the gumption of the fab five friends.

A fabulous fantasy series, Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi (Scholastic, Graphix) is another great gift choice.  It's about Emily and her brother Navin who, through extenuating circumstances, find themselves battling for the freedom of a parallel world and face mounting dangers with newfound friends. The Young Adult Library services Association named it one of Best Books for Young Adults in 2009. In 2010, it won a Rhode Island Children’s Book Award and was included in a Library Journal list of “Graphic Novels for Reluctant Readers.” In 2011, it received a Young Reader’s Choice Award, and in 2013, it was ranked fourth on Goodreads’ “Best Graphic Novels for Children” list. These books received an Eisner nomination and are currently New York Times bestsellers.
Jules Feiffer

Jules Feiffer is one of the greatest living cartoonists, and we had the honor of hosting him at the Small Press Expo this year. While there, he took the time to sign copies of his children’s book, Rupert Can Dance. Mr. Feiffer is an American original, and this is a very special item. Here's a link for signed editions through CBLDF: http://cbldf.myshopify.com/products/rupert-can-dance-signed-by-jules-feiffer
This year, Ben Hatke concluded his series Zita the Space Girl (series, First Second Books) - a truly awesome read.  The story and art are loads of fun and our hero, Zita is wonderfully strong, real, and warmly vulnerable.

For those who love to draw and/or tell stories: Adventures in Cartooning (First Second Books) an ongoing series by James Sturm, Andrew Arnold and Alexis Frederick-Frost illustrates basic elements of catooning (for kids of all ages) while telling tales of knights, princesses, kings, dragons and faithful steeds.

For Tweens, Teens, and Older:
Prudence Shen and Faith Erin Hicks

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong by Faith Erin Hicks (First Second)is a graphic novel for older kids (for mature middle school or high school and older) adapted and drawn by Faith Erin Hicks from the young adult novel Voted Most Likely by Prudence Shen. It’s full of unlikely friendships and nicely nuanced characters who bend and shatter stereotypes and expectations as they discover more about themselves, their friendships, and their passions.

The Shadow Hero (First Second Books, 2014) by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew is another 2014 gem. This book is a tribute to the almost forgotten golden age comics series, The Green Turtle. The Shadow Hero, like The Green Turtle is about a crime solving hero who fights injustice, but like most masked crusading superheroes has a secret and a past.

Jeff Smith
Bone by Jeff Smith is a truly classic tween graphic novel series that has influenced many of the younger graphic artists such as Kazu Kibuishi (see above).  It's about three cousins from Boneville who have lost their way and stumbled into a different world full of love, laughs and adventure. Here is a CBLDF link for  a limited number of the very cool Bone: The Great Cow Race Artist Edition. These oversized hardcovers are reprinted from the original art pages, and are absolutely beautiful. These editions are sketched and signed on CBLDF bookplates and are a very rare item. Also through CBLDF, if you are thinking something smaller, artist Jeff Smith has once again offered to PERSONALIZE editions of the Complete Bone.Here are some CBLDF links: http://cbldf.myshopify.com/products/bone-the-great-cow-race-artist-s-edition-signed-and-sketchedand http://cbldf.myshopify.com/products/bone-one-volume-edition-personalized-by-jeff-smith

One of the best new books for younger readers (in this author’s opinion) is the dynamic and gorgeous Battling Boy (series published by First Second Books) from Artist Paul Pope. We not only have signed copies of the book, but a special gift set that comes with an exclusive embroidered patch featuring Haggard West, the greatest hero of Battling Boy’s world. Here's a link for signed editions from CBLDF http://cbldf.myshopify.com/products/battling-boy-gift-set

In Real Life by Cory Doctrow and Jen is a powerful story about tolerance (or the lack thereof), and about how technology and persistence can help us overcome hateful barriers. The story centers around an Arizona teenager named Anda Bridge. Anda, inspired by a school visit from an older gamer named Liza the Organizer, joins Liza’s all-woman gamer group within Coarsegold Online, a fictional MMORPG with upward of 10 million players in the hope of meeting friends from all over the world. But things become complicated, rules somehow interfere, and Andra realizes that issues of right and wrong are not straightforward.

Andre the Giant: Life and Legend by Box Brown (First Second, 2014) is a strong, brilliant and moving graphic novel biography about wrestler, actor Andre the Giant.  It takes us deep into his life, into the life of championship wrestling, showing us vulnerabilities in each.  It also illustrates the terrible hardships Andre endured (both physical and emotional) because of his size, and makes us think more carefully about our own gifts and crosses to bear.  I highly recommend this book for school and recreational reading.

For additional lists and suggestions for kids please visit:


Brandon Graham is one of the most unique voices on the current comics scene, and we have a nice set of items featuring signed books, and sketchbook samplers for folks who are into genre-bending work influenced by sources as varied as street art, classic manga, and trippy ’70s sci-fi. For someone who needs to see some of the more interesting work in comics. Here's a link to get a signed edition from CBLDF: http://cbldf.myshopify.com/products/brandon-graham-gift-set
One of the more lauded books this year is the unlikely story of Brian Epstein, a graphic novel labor of love by author Vivek Tiwary and artist Andrew Robinson. The Fifth Beatle won a wheelbarrow full of awards this year, and for the music fan in your life, we have copies signed by the author. Here's a link to get a signed edition from CBLDF: http://cbldf.myshopify.com/products/the-fifth-beatle-personalized-by-vivek-tiwary
Art Spiegelman
But maybe, the best selection for this section,  is the ultimate classic and the only graphic novel to date to win a Pulitzer prize, Maus. You can probably find these in most book stores, but CBLDF is offering signed by Art Spiegelman on a bookplate he designed specifically for this volume. Here's the CBLDF link: http://cbldf.myshopify.com/products/gn-maus-personal


Please check out CBLDF's  collection of comics and graphic novel educational materials at:

As always, I thank you for your visit, and I wish you and your family a happy holiday season.
Please leave your own ultimate comic/graphic novel suggestions in the comments below.


  1. Great Stuff! Hey, grownups - REALLY...read at least the first Maus.


  2. Some great ideas- have long been a fan of Maus.