When I was growing up there were very few, if any, graphic novels available for younger readers (or at least very few mainstream ones, I don’t think I ever encountered one on all of my trips to the library.) I remember when I was a teenager my younger brother getting into comics and manga and my mother freaking out because most of them featured very scantily clad women and lots of violence. Thankfully that has changed a lot in recent years. There are now tons of graphic novels and comic style books for all age ranges featuring gorgeous artwork, complex and funny stories. Basically anything you could want in a “regular” book.
I’ve never been able to get into the manga style animation so you probably won’t ever see one of those featured here on the blog (sorry!) But I’ve come to really appreciate the beauty and genius of a graphic novel. This one I read recently made me feel as if it were a historical fiction (I kept looking for an author’s note with additional information on the time period and such.) The author was definitely influenced by ancient China but has created an original tale with engaging characters. I can’t wait to read more!
Written and Illustrated by: Faith Erin Hicks
Number of Pages: 240
Age Range: 8-12
The Nameless City changes names each time a new conqueror takes control. The occupants of the city choose to keep their heads down and stay out of trouble as much as possible and call themselves Nameless rather than acknowledging the latest power, which never seems to last very long. Kaidu is from the Dao clan, the current occupiers of the city and Rat is a cynical, street smart native. The two meet and become reluctant friends, learning to respect each other’s ways and helping to change the fate of the nation.
There’s intrigue, perseverance, battles and bullying, friendship–pretty much anything a tween boy could ask for (or girl for that matter!) When I worked at the library I loved handing graphic novels to reluctant readers. They’re perfect with their minimal text and lots of pictures but that doesn’t make them any less valuable as books. There’s still a lot going on. Plus they’re just plain fun!
If you’re already an aficionado I’d love to hear your favorites in the comments. I definitely haven’t read them all! And if you’ve never read a graphic novel, I’ll challenge you to pick one up in the next couple of weeks. Give it a read and let me know what you think!