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Growing Reader

Tween

11 Outrageously Funny Graphic Novels for Reluctant Young Readers

by Iva-Marie Palmer

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Some kids have a natural affinity for reading. They’re the kids who not only have a favorite book but often find almost any reading material interesting. Other kids need more encouragement to explore the world of reading. The best motivation for a reluctant reader is to entice them with books they can’t help but love.

Graphic novels create a natural entry point for turning a reluctant reader into a book lover. These selections are full of humor – wordplay, slapstick, silly scenarios, and oddball premises – that make them irresistible.

Pro tip: Don’t impose these on your stubborn reader. Merely show them the book and say, “This one looks like something you might like.” Leave it on a table or the arm of the couch and (stealthily) watch. They’re sure to pick it up and be chuckling soon.

  • Mellybean Series

    by Mike White

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    Many reluctant readers will relate to Mellybean, an energetic pup who wants her feline friends to play with her instead of napping. In this graphic novel series, the high-energy canine finds her way into magical adventures in new worlds. These snappy, sweet stories will hook young readers who love animal movies like The Secret Life of Pets.

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  • Ham Helsing #1: Vampire Hunter

    by Rich Moyer

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    A pig who fights vampires — who could resist this premise? This first entry in a new series features Ham Helsing, a pig from a long line of vampire hunters. Ham isn’t quite like his family, preferring to read poetry and paint pictures instead of chasing down fanged monsters. But after his daredevil brother tragically dies, it’s up to Ham to carry on the dangerous work of fighting immortal foes.

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  • How to Promenade with a Python (and Not Get Eaten)

    by Rachel Poliquin, illustrated by Kathryn Durst

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    The main character of Rachel Poliquin’s new Polite Predators series is Celeste – a cockroach. The much-maligned insect serves as a guide to hanging out with predators without getting eaten (something cockroaches manage to do around various members of the animal kingdom). This lively and colorful book (with illustrations by Kathryn Durst) offers up plenty of python facts as Celeste brainstorms a myriad of ways to survive a moonlit walk with a slithering pal.

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  • Zoo Patrol Squad Series

    by Brett Bean

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    These graphic novels, perfect for fans of the Dog Man series, pop right off the page with Brett Bean’s fast-paced writing and colorful illustrations. Mismatched duo Fenlock the Fox and Penny the Pig work together to solve mysteries, find missing zoo pals, track monsters, and save the day. The Zoo Patrol Squad will keep young readers engaged and laughing for several re-reads.

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  • A Jack Book Series

    by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Greg Pizzoli

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    The Jack books are fast and fun reads, prompting lots of laughs from new readers. Jack is a rather naughty little bunny. He steals his lady friend’s lipstick and will do anything for a snack (or a bag of cash). He also prefers to play video games instead of reading about a well-behaved kid learning a (boring) lesson. With illustrations by Greg Pizzoli, Barnett’s series is on its eighth book, so new fans will have plenty to delight and amuse them – and get them reading!

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  • Bug Boys Series

    by Laura Knetzger

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    Rhino-B and Stag-B are two best friends who couldn’t be more different, save for the fact that they’re both beetles. In Laura Knetzger’s graphic novels, the duo learns about the natural world as they face challenges, go on adventures, and process their bug feelings. This series is perfect for young fans of Narwhal and Jelly.

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  • Max Meow Series

    by John Gallagher

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    Bad Guys and HiLo fans will love the heroic feline superhero, Max Meow. Max’s powers get activated when he bites into a radioactive meatball at his friend’s secret lab. Max’s superhero adventures are hilarious and heartfelt as he works to save the world and be a good and cooperative friend.

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  • Kitty Quest

    by Phil Corbett

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    Phil Corbett's graphic novel debut will garner instant approval from readers of Dav Pilkey (Captain Underpants, Dog Man) and Lincoln Peirce (Nate the Great, Max and the Midknights). In this series opener, two enterprising kittens offer up their services as professional monster hunters – even though neither of them has any experience in that arena. Silly scenarios and lots of slapstick make this a win for middle grade readers who love a good adventure tale that doesn’t take itself seriously.

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  • Agent 9: Flood-a-Geddon!

    by James Burks

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    This middle grade graphic novel series about a feline secret agent is endlessly adorable and amusing. Agent 9 – one of the world’s best operatives against a host of loony villains – gets thrown into a mission to save his spy headquarters from the clutches of the wacky King Crab. Young readers can expect to find super-spy skills, magnificent mishaps, and plenty of laugh-out-loud moments in this book. Author James Burks has worked on many animated comedies, and kids who could use a break from on-screen cartoons will quickly find a friend in Agent 9.

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  • Pacey Packer: Unicorn Tracker Book 1

    by J.C. Phillipps

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    Unicorn Tracker — what kid could resist learning more about what that job entails? Pacey doesn’t believe unicorns are real, but her little sister, Mina, does. She even claims that her pet stuffy, Slasher, will take her to a magical unicorn land. When Mina disappears, Pacey tracks her and Slasher to – yes – a magical world that’s nothing like the idyllic places unicorn fans might envision. Instead, Slasher is a grump, and the lead unicorn is a nasty villain. By turning the tables on an idealized magical creature, J.C. Phillipps’s graphic novels will enchant unicorn fans and haters alike.

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  • Aster and the Mixed-Up Magic

    by Thom Pico, illustrated by Karensac

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    In this sequel to Aster and the Accidental Magic, Aster is adjusting to her new home in the middle of nowhere – a place that is turning out better than she expected. But after saving the valley from some dark magic, she can't catch a break before fresh new calamities arise. The humor of the Aster books will draw in even the most hesitant middle grade readers.

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