6) The Complete Calvin and Hobbes
Writer: Bill Watterson
Artist: Bill Watterson
Ages: 8 and Up
Bill Watterson’s story of a young boy, Calvin, and his stuffed tiger, Hobbes, has been a classic for years now. Hobbes isn’t just a stuffed toy though; to Calvin he is real, and together they live through the trivialities of life and growing up. Many mums and dads will already have fond memories of their own of reading Watterson’s 28 year old comic, and the best thing they can do is let their own children share the experience.
Calvin and Hobbes is a comic that will give you laughter and happiness with its feel-good attitude and humorous observations from Calvin’s point of view. Reading it is now a visit to nostalgia for many parents who grew up in the 80s, but Calvin and Hobbes is going to be read by children for many generations to come.
7) Coraline: the Graphic Novel
Writer: Neil Gaiman
Artist: P. Craig Russell
Ages: 10 and up
Next we move on to something darker. Coraline, by graphic novel legend Neil Gaiman, is the story of Coraline Jones, a girl who finds a door in her new house that leads her to an alternate universe. In this parallel dimension everything seems rosy; Coraline’s parents actually want to spend time with her, and the stray black cat that lives in the area can talk. But Coraline quickly finds out that not everything is good as it seems.
Although David McKean did the original illustrations in Gaiman’s novel, P. Craig Russell takes over art duties in the graphic novel adaptation and he does so with a lot of success. If your children love fantasy adventures and like to be a little bit scared then they’ll probably get a lot of enjoyment out of Coraline.
8) The Stonekeeper (Amulet book 1)
Writer: Kazu Kibuishi
Artist: Kazu Kibuishi
Ages: 8 and Up
The Stonekeeper is a story of adventure, terrifying monsters, and two children’s quest to save their mother. This is not a book for very young kids, given that there are themes of death and grief, but grades three and up will get a lot out of Kibuishi’s story. In fact, some schools have actually started using the book and found that students have loved it.
Some people have made a big deal out of the fact that there is an emotional death in the beginning of the book – Emily and Navin tragically lose their father- but I don’t see this as an issue in a graphic novel for children. After all, there is a pretty heart wrenching scene in Bambi, yet you would never say a kid shouldn’t watch it. Get the Amulet series for your son or daughter and they will be hooked instantly.
Writer: Andy Runton
Artist: Andy Runton
Ages: 5 and Up
One of the most sickeningly cute entries on the list, Owly is the story of a lonely owl who goes on a journey to make a few friends and have a few adventures. He learns some lessons on friendship on the way, ones that any child should also learn, and generally becomes a much better owl by the end of the experience.
Rated for ages 5 and up, Owly is a tale full of emotion, lessons and things to make you smile. Runton has created a story that people of all ages will enjoy, and the book is good-natured fun in the extreme. Owly is one of those heroes that is absolutely good all the way to the core, and is a much need contrast to a lot of the anti-heroes we see these days.
10) Rapunzel's Revenge
Writer: Dean Hale / Shannon Hale
Artist: Nathan Hale
Ages: 10 and up
Rapunzel’s Revenge is a twist on a well-known fairy tale. It is the story of the classic character Rapunzel, but one in which she escapes the walls of her house and actually gets to explore some of the world. As you’d expect she has a lot of adventures, meets a lot of people and gets into a lot of trouble along the way.
This is an entertaining spin on a classic tale, and one your kid will get a lot out of if they love action and adventure. The art work is cartoonish and partners the story perfectly, and it makes this fairy story re-telling an exciting read for both kids and adults.