The best middle-grade graphic-novels with kids you’d want to be friends with

Sylvie Kantorovitz Author Of Sylvie
By Sylvie Kantorovitz

The Books I Picked & Why

Stepping Stones

By Lucy Knisley

Book cover of Stepping Stones

Why this book?

Jen’s mother decides to live in the country with her boyfriend, and Jen misses her father and the city. She is not that fond of the boyfriend and would rather draw than help with the farm chores. Every weekend, the boyfriend’s daughters join the new family and the girls do not seem to get along. But, weekend after weekend, things start to change. I found the evolution of the various relationships charming, realistic, and uplifting.  

I loved Jen’s personality. She is good-natured and tries hard to adapt to her new surroundings and to her mother’s boyfriend. But she also knows what she likes and what she will put up with.


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New Kid

By Jerry Craft

Book cover of New Kid

Why this book?

Jordan loves to draw and hopes to be sent to an arts middle school. But his well-intentioned parents send him to an exclusive private school where, as one of the few kids of color, he faces dismissive and sometimes insulting attitudes.

I loved the character of Jordan. How he makes new friends, some wealthy, some on financial aid. How kind and considerate he is towards his classmates, courteous with his teachers, and loving with his parents. Yet, he also speaks up when he needs to, and questions unacceptable behavior. He expresses his feelings mostly through his clever drawings and observations which are sprinkled throughout the book. 

I particularly loved the use of humor to tell a very meaningful story. 


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Sunny Side Up

By Jennifer L. Holm, Matthew Holm

Book cover of Sunny Side Up

Why this book?

Sunny is spending the summer with her grandfather in his retirement community after the family’s plan of a beach vacation is cancelled. I loved the connection between Sunny and her grandfather. Neither one was counting on this long visit and they both make the best of it. At first, it seems there is nothing much for Sunny to do. Luckily she meets the only other kid in the community and they become good friends, bonding over his beloved comics collection. 

But there are things Sunny sees and doesn’t tell, secrets that weigh on her, troubling memories of home. From funny moments to poignant ones, I couldn’t put this book down. 


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Twins: A Graphic Novel

By Varian Johnson, Shannon Wright

Book cover of Twins: A Graphic Novel

Why this book?

What happens when twins —who have been best friends forever— are not ready to become two separate individuals at the same time. Maureen has a hard time accepting that her sister, Francine, is changing. She feels left behind. This is making the start of sixth grade rough for both girls, especially as they’ve both decided to run for student council president and are now competing with each other. 

I found both girls endearing, their different personalities well defined, their competitive weeks during campaigning totally believable. I really loved the parents and the general family atmosphere, as well as the various friends. 

I also loved the art. So well-drawn, and so readable!


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Be Prepared

By Vera Brosgol

Book cover of Be Prepared

Why this book?

This is a memoir about wanting desperately to fit in. Vera feels lonely at school where she feels at odds with the other girls: she is Russian, and not as affluent as her peers. She begs to go to Russian camp where she is sure she’ll finally make friends. But camp turns out to be quite different from the fantasy she was imagining. 

The depiction of camp, of the campers and counselors, of the various activities, it is all so delightful, sometimes funny, sometimes poignant. Vera’s personality won me over: she is a tough young girl who, in spite of her fears and disappointments, still tries to make the best of things. 

I particularly loved the drawing style.


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