Children’s books: summer reading for graphic novel lovers

Swim Team, Swan Lake, and PAWS are all good for relaxing on vacation.

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If you’re looking for ways to keep your kids busy after school ends next month, why not get some board games and books for the inevitable rainy days that keep them indoors. Maybe include a few graphic novels like the ones below, aimed at 8-12 year olds.

Swim Team: Small Waves, Big Changes

Written and illustrated by Johnnie Christmas

Harper Alley

This wonderful book opens with a big change in young Bree’s life as she and her father, Ralph, drive from Brooklyn to their new home in Florida for Ralph’s new jobs. Math-loving Bree worries about leaving her friends behind, but in Florida she quickly makes new friends and settles into a new school. The only problem is his fourth-period internship; Math Puzzles is complete. The only thing available is Swim 101 – but Bree doesn’t swim and dreads the sight of a pool. The colorful artistry with which Vancouver’s Johnnie Christmas tells this tale benefits greatly from the likable characters (and several unlikable ones) who populate the book. Bree’s determination – and the help of a kind neighbor who – sees her overcome her fear of water and teaches readers not only how to achieve a goal, but also how to fight prejudice and racism. It may also inspire readers to search the internet for Bree’s new school namesake, Enith Brigitha, the first black woman to win an Olympic medal in swimming.

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Swan Lake: The Quest for Kingdoms

By Rey Terciero

Illustrated by Megan Kearney

Harper Alley

Fans of fantasy and fairy tales will enjoy this reimagining of the classic Swan Lake story. Cursed since childhood to turn into a swan every morning and back to human every night, young Princess Odette strikes up an unlikely friendship with Dillie (Princess Odile), whose father is falsely accused of causing the curse. Together with Siegfried (aka Fred), the young prince of a third kingdom trying to prove his leadership abilities, and a huge bear he communicates with, they embark on a quest to get a WishMage to remove the curse. Toronto’s Megan Kearney breathes plenty of action into the footage, especially as she portrays Odette’s graceful movements in flight and Dillie’s warlike antics.

PAWS: Gabby pulls herself together

By Nathan Fairbairn

Illustrated by Michele Assarasakorn

little penguin

Set in East Vancouver, a diverse community, this series starter introduces mid-level readers to three classmates who, though different from each other, become good friends: Gabby Jordan, who is in 5th grade; Priya Gupta and Mindy Park, who are in 6th grade. All three love animals but, for various reasons, do not have pets. Instead, they form PAWS (Pretty Awesome WalkerS), a dog walking club, to earn extra money and spend time with animals. Inevitable arguments arise between the girls as they plan the club and sign up five clients, and Gabby ends up caring for all five dogs on her own – with disastrous results.

Irene B. Bowles