The 2017 Nerdies: Graphic Novels Announced by Katherine Sokolowski
It’s the most wonderful time of the year once again. Time to drain your pocketbooks, fire up that library card, and add to your to-read lists. I love waiting to see all of the amazing lists that come out of your votes for the Nerdies. Every year I’ve waited with excitement for the winning list to arrive in my email inbox to write this post. I examine it with delight, seeing old favorites that my students and I have shared over the year and finding new books that I know need to find their way to my shelves in the classroom. As I’ve often said, the graphic novel section of my classroom remains the most used space in the room. I’ve taught from kindergarten through seventh grade and it still holds true today for my middle school students. These are books they return to again and again – stories they love, illustrations they admire, and characters that make them think.
The 2017 Nerdy Book Club Award Winners for Best Graphic Novels
All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson
Imogene, or Impy, has called the Renaissance Faire home for as long as she can remember. Faire season is one to be celebrated and she’s excited to grow up and work in it, just like her parents. This year, though, she tackles an even bigger challenge – leaving the comfort of homeschooling and entering the crazy world of middle school.
Brave by Svetlana Chmakova
Brave is a follow-up to Chmakova’s fabulous book, Awkward, though I believe it can stand alone as well. Here we follow Jensen as he navigates the difficulties of middle school, makes new friends, and deals with some typical middle school problems in a way that makes you cheer him on until the end..
Dog Man: A Tale of Two Kitties by Dav Pilkey
I’d read anything Dav Pilkey writes at this point. At my age, I still find myself laughing out loud over his books. Dog Man returns to the Nerdy graphic novel winners in the third volume, A Tale of Two Kitties. Dog Man’s arch nemesis, Petey the Cat, is back. He’s cloned himself to spread his evil message, however his clone is half his size (Lil’ Petey) and *gasp* not evil!
I Am Alfonso Jones written by Tony Medina, Illustrated by Stacey Robinson and John Jennings
Alfonso Jones has a lot ahead of him, and it’s all looking good. A lead role in a rendition of Hamlet, a girl he likes and is working up to tell her that and, in an instant, it is all turned on its head. Thinking Alfonso’s hanger in a dressing room is a gun, an off-duty police officer shoots him. When he awakes, it is in the afterlife as ghosts share what we needs to know about this new world. Powerful story.
Invisible Emmie by Terri Libenson
Emmie is quiet and introverted. Katie is outgoing and friendly. One day, completely by accident, a note Emmie has drawn ends up in the wrong hands and her middle school world threatens to come crashing down. Fabulous book for the middle school classroom.
Mighty Jack and the Goblin King by Ben Hatke
In my mind, Ben Hatke can do no wrong after the amazing Zita the Spacegirl series. Here he is again in the second installment of the Mighty Jack series, the first one appearing on this list last year. Jack is back and he and Lilly are off on an adventure, to save his little sister Maddy from an ogre. Filled with action, adventure, and friendship, kids will be sure to add this to their favorite graphic novel lists.
Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani
Priyanka Das, Pri, has so many questions about her mom and her mother’s homeland of India. Unfortunately this topic has always been off limits. When she finds one of her mom’s pashminas hidden away, Pri is transported and just might find the answers she has longed for. Perfect story for all children, especially when they are straddling multiple cultures.
Real Friends written by Shannon Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
Shannon has a best friend in Adrienne, it has been that way since they were little. But then Adrienne begins to hang around with Jen, the leader of The Group – the most popular group in school. To keep atop the social ladder of their school, and stay part of The Group, kids can be cruel. Real Friends rings true for anyone who has already navigated these tricky waters, and kids that are just wading in.
Spill Zone written by Scott Westerfeld, illustrated by Alex Puvilland
Three years ago The Spill hit Poughkeepsie, taking the lives of Addison’s parents and while severely impacting her little sister, Lexa. Life has changed. Addison supports she and her sister by taking photos of this bizarre new world, but that job is not without danger. Get swept up in the first volume of this new series and then eagerly await the second volume, coming this summer.
Spinning by Tillie Walden
Tillie Walden has been devoted to figure skating for ten years. Ten years of practices, of waking early, of competition, of single-minded devotion to her sport. A move to a new school, a new hobby in art, and a new friend – and possibly girlfriend? – make Tillie wonder if she has outgrown this sport she fiercely loved for so long.
Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt by Ben Clanton
Narwhal and Jelly are back on the Nerdy Graphic Novel list this year after the first book appeared here in 2016. In this installment the two friends go on three superhero adventures in a heartwarming story. Through Narwhal and Jelly, and their superhero alter-egos, you find a story of friendship and finding your voice.
Swing It, Sunny written by Jennifer L. Holm, illustrated by Matthew Holm
The Holms, and Sunny, are back in this follow-up to Sunny Side Up (which won a Nerdy in 2015). Sunny is back from Florida and getting ready to head to the strangest place of all – middle school. Life seems to be far from normal. She talks to Gramps on the phone, but home seems off since her brother Dale went to boarding school. The Holms do a perfect job portraying the confusion of this age while dealing with big and small issues, both that can leave an impact.
The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui
This beautifully illustrated memoir written for adults has crossover appeal for teens. Thi Bui writes and illustrates her family’s escape during the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s along with the difficulty of starting over somewhere new. Told in different time periods, the book begins, and ends, with the birth of Thi’s first child, but then that event causes her to reexamine what her mom had gone through in the past and the impact on their relationship.
The Nameless City: The Stone Heart by Faith Erin Hicks, color by Jordie Bellaire
The Stone Heart picks up right where The Nameless City (a 2016 Nerdy winner) left off. Kaidu and Rat are safe from the assassination attempt of the first book, but now the entire city seems to be in jeopardy. It’s hard to know who you can trust in this fast paced adventure, but you will have a blast being along for the ride.
5 Worlds Book 1: The Sand Warrior written by Mark Siegel and Alexis Siegel; illustrated by Xanthe Bouma, Matt Rockefeller, and Boya Sun
Oona Lee, An Tzu, and Jax Amboy are unlikely heroes, but they will need to join together to fight evil. Each world is home to a different race, but the worlds are in trouble – possibly because the ancient beacons haven’t been lit. By working together, they might be able to defy the odds. First in a series, there are multiple storylines interwoven that will leave you wanting more.
Congratulations to all of the 2017 Nerdy Book Club award winners for best graphic novels.
Katherine Sokolowski has taught for twenty-one years and currently teaches seventh grade in Monticello, Illinois. She is passionate about reading both in her classroom and also with her two sons. You can find her online at http://readwriteandreflect.blogspot.com/ and on Twitter as @katsok.