Here are some graphic novels (my original list had about fifty GNs on it, but I culled it down to just the stronger ones.) These may not have strong enough themes to sustain classroom study, but would be good books to have available to get kids interested in reading. As always, you may want to read these for yourself before buying them -- my tastes may not equal yours, and your community may have different standards of what is acceptable than mine does. They are good books, though. Check them out.
I don't usually review manga -- I feel like there is far more of it than I could ever keep up with. And this one certainly isn't pure manga. It is interesting stuff, though, and might be a nice bridge for manga readers to explore conventional graphic novels. The drawings are sketchy and this is one in a series, so I can’t say it was a complete story, but it was pretty compelling about a kid who gets connected to a evil war robot and has to work out one body with two minds, two sets of objectives, and two moral codes. Interesting stuff. The art could be stronger, though.
Hale, S; D, Hale, et al. (2008) Rapunzel's Revenge New York: Bloomsbury. This is more for middle schoolers, but I know one high school student who still rereads this regularly. This is a wild west retelling of the Rapunzel myth, but without the prince. Rapunzel saves herself and the kingdom along with it. She comes across as a sort of female Indiana Jones without the macho. Good stuff.
In volume two, they have to escape a pack of evil elves, aid some powerful but benevolent trees, rescue their mom, defeat the elf king, and master the magic stone without letting it take over.
I know that sounds silly.
But here is the thing, a graphic novel is a combination of words and pictures, and these pictures are awesome. Fourth graders through eighth graders are going to love this book. It is fun and funny and sometimes gripping.
This is not the sort of graphic novel with themes in it that will stretch your consciousness or change your life. But it isn't lightweight either. It treats the reader as if he or she is intelligent and perceptive. Good stuff.
It completes the story begun in Foiled. Aliera Carstairs is a high school student who works hard, likes to read, and is passionate about fencing (sword fighting, not chain link and picket fences). She has been taking lesson for years and is very good with a foil. In the first book her mom was at a garage sale and bought her a fencing foil with a red jewel at the end of the hilt. It turned out that the foil was enchanted and allowed her to see the faerie world all around her. This led to some odd and otherworldly experiences and the discovery that her lab partner was a troll. Now in the second book, we are drawn into the real conflict -- a save-the-world-from-utter-destruction kind of thing with plenty of close calls, plot twists, narrow escapes, and surprising revelations. Good stuff. Mike Cavallaro's illustrations are exciting and engaging. The use of color to indicate the separation between the mundane wold and the faerie one is well handled. The facial expressions are particularly well-rendered.