The best graphic novels about middle school problems

Georgia Ball Author Of Clifford the Big Red Dog: The Movie Graphic Novel
By Georgia Ball

Who am I?

Middle school was a particularly difficult time for me, a lonely outsider often buried in a book. I didn’t expect to become a comic writer but I fell in love with them in college when my roommate came home with piles of indie books every Wednesday. Now I write comics and adapt stories for Scholastic, including Lauren Tarshis's popular disaster series I Survived


I wrote...

Clifford the Big Red Dog: The Movie Graphic Novel

By Georgia Ball, Chi Ngo (illustrator),

Book cover of Clifford the Big Red Dog: The Movie Graphic Novel

What is my book about?

Emily Elizabeth is struggling to fit in at home and in school when she meets Clifford, a tiny red puppy who is destined to become her best friend. But when Clifford undergoes a magical growth spurt overnight, he attracts the attention of a genetics company looking for a way to supersize animals. With the help of her Uncle Casey, the people in her neighborhood, and some new friends made along the way, Emily Elizabeth and Clifford have to go on the run across New York City!

This graphic novel adaptation features original illustrations and exclusive new scenes and stories not seen in the movie.

The books I picked & why

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Twins: A Graphic Novel

By Varian Johnson, Shannon Wright (illustrator),

Book cover of Twins: A Graphic Novel

Why this book?

Twins is an original story that features the conflict between twin sisters as they both run for school president. There’s no simple or quick resolution to family disagreements and this book doesn’t try to give it one. The sisters learn from their parents, learn from each other, and ultimately learn more about themselves. I love honesty and complexity; this graphic novel doesn’t avoid either one.


Nat Enough: A Graphic Novel

By Maria Scrivan,

Book cover of Nat Enough: A Graphic Novel

Why this book?

My writing class encourages us to write memoirs about that time we were “the worst person in the room.” Mistakes make main characters vulnerable and relatable. As Nat pursues her first crush and alienates her friends, she turns into the kind of person you wish you could take aside for harsh truths before she ruins her life. Nat bumbles her way to better choices and there’s nothing more relatable than that.


All's Faire in Middle School

By Victoria Jamieson,

Book cover of All's Faire in Middle School

Why this book?

I used to love going to the Texas Renaissance Fair with my family every year and often imagined what it would be like to work the booths. I also used to tutor homeschooled kids when I was in high school and this graphic novel is a fascinating cross-section of those two worlds. Imogene struggles to fit in with the standards of a new school, something that happens to many kids who aren’t even part-time knights.


Drama: A Graphic Novel

By Raina Telgemeier,

Book cover of Drama: A Graphic Novel

Why this book?

I admire honesty in storytelling and Drama stuck with me long after I’d put it down. While I don’t recommend it for very young readers who might have been fans of Smile, it’s a poignant story for 7th to 8th graders who might be in the middle of their first crush. There is all kinds of drama behind the scenes, especially in theater; sometimes the boy doesn’t like you and sometimes it’s because he likes another boy. It happens, and Callie learns to accept that, remain friends and move on.


Real Friends

By Shannon Hale, LeUyen Pham (illustrator),

Book cover of Real Friends

Why this book?

Friendships are messy and Real Friends tackles that fact head-on. Shannon’s best friend turns vicious and impossible to please when their status with the in-crowd is at stake. Having gone through my own tumultuous friendships growing up, it’s easy to imagine how readers can get involved in the arguments and take sides.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in school, friendships, and comics?

5,887 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about school, friendships, and comics.

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

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