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New to Comics!: Kids and Kids at Heart

One of our specialties here at Betty’s Books is helping people of all ages get started with comics, graphic novels, and manga. If you’re new or shopping for a newbie in your life, the New to Comics! Series of posts is for you. This post features recommendations for readers new to comics who are kids (ages 4+) or kids at heart. For adults new to comics, kids comics can also be a fun place to start.


Mr. Wuffles book coverMr. Wuffles by David Wiesner
Mr. Wuffles is your typical housecat—adorable, sassy, and disinterested in everything his humans offer him–until one day a small toy-sized alien spaceship enters his domain. This nearly wordless picture book told in comic panels and spare speech bubbles tells the story of the aliens who need to repair their spaceship in time to escape Mr. Wuffles’ aggressive curiosity. This Caldecott Honor Book is wonderful for anyone new to comics—young or old—and even more so for snuggling up to read together before bedtime.


Vamos Let_s Go Eat book cover¡Vamos! Let’s Go Eat! by Raúl the Third III
In this delicious bilingual picture book, Pura Belpré award winning illustrator, Raúl the Third, tells the story of Little Lobo, who is tasked with buying the wrestling (lucha libre) stars their pre-match lunch! As a result, he gives readers a tour of the many fantastic food trucks in town. This celebration of Mexican food will delight any foodie young or old. Readers can begin to familiarize themselves with comic-style panels and speech bubbles while enjoying Raúl the Third’s detailed and joyous illustrations.


Tiger Vs. Nightmare book coverTiger vs. Nightmare by Emily Tetri
Are you afraid there’s a monster living under your bed? Tiger is not. The monster living under her bed is her best friend. Tiger and Monster play together every night, and Monster scares away Tiger’s bad dreams. But when a nightmare too scary for even Monster to keep away shows up, Tiger and Monster must work together to face their fears. This award-winning graphic novel uses speech bubbles and panels to enrich the narrative in an approachable way for all readers.


Kitten Construction Company book coverKitten Construction Company by John Patrick Green
This adorable graphic novel for novice readers follows the kitten, Marmalade, and her team of construction kitties as they embark on a major building project for their city. Their main obstacle? How hard it is for people to take them seriously since they are so cute! This lighthearted story and charming artwork are perfect for kiddos interested in pets or construction and is fun for the caregivers reading with them as well.


Owly book coverOwly Series by Andy Runton
The Owly Series follows the unlikely friendship between a gentle Owl with a green thumb, Owly, and a friendly, injury-prone young worm, Wormy, and their adventures together. The stories in each volume are heart-warming and include fun facts about different forest animals, as well as adorable artwork. Runton uses a signature blend of pictures and words in the speech bubbles making this a perfect comic for early readers as well as new comics readers. This series is truly a delight to read together as a family!


Narwhal Jelly book coverNarwhal & Jelly Series by Ben Clanton
Like the Owly series, the Eisner-winning Narwhal & Jelly volumes tell the story of two unlikely friends, a bubbly Narwhal (Narwhal) and a slightly grumpier Jellyfish (Jelly), and it is an excellent series for the youngest comics readers, and their caregivers. Despite its similarities and charm, its tone is goofier, and the artwork is more minimalist than Owly’s. Prepare yourself for waffles, parties, and adventures with this undersea odd couple!


The Arrival book coverThe Arrival by Shaun Tan
This award-winning, wordless graphic novel conveys the wonder and fear of journeying to a new country. The hyper-realistically rendered art easily conveys one level of meaning for younger readers and opens itself up to more experienced readers for deeper interpretation. This feature makes it perfect for readers young and old to pour over the beautiful sepia-toned illustrations together. A favorite description I’ve read of this book is by Craig Thompson, author of Blankets, who called it “a magical river of strangers and their stories!”


Fairy Tale Comics book coverFairy Tale Comics: Classic Tales Told By Extraordinary Cartoonists by various authors and artists
From classics like “Little Red Riding Hood”—my daughter’s favorite—to new tales like “The Boy Who Drew Cats”—everyone can find something to enjoy in this collection of fairy tales told in the comics format. The seventeen different cartoonists include big names like Raina Telgemeier and Jillian Tamaki as well as some names that might be new to you. Besides the fact that it’s always fun to hear a new twist on an old tale, it’s also fun to compare the different artists styles. I can see this title having a place in the classroom and on the home bookshelf.


Science Comics book coverScience Comics Series by various authors & artists
Do you or the kiddo in your life like non-fiction? As usual, there’s a comics series for that! Each volume in the Science Comics series introduces a topic—such as airplanes, the solar system, dinosaurs, bats, etc.—in a fun, approachable way for kids and adults alike! Also, I want to shout out Science Comics: Cars in particular because STL local cartoonist, Dan Zettwoch, wrote and illustrated it! His detailed and energetic illustrations plus the many historical tidbits woven into to the science are a pure delight.


The Complete Chi's Sweet Home book coverChi’s Sweet Home by Kanata Konami
Chi, a playful baby kitten, gets lost from her family while out on a stroll. Fortunately, when she thinks all is lost and breaks down in tears, she is rescued by a young boy, Yohei, and his mother. At their apartment, Chi begins to make a new home even though pets are NOT allowed. This story’s cute drawings will appeal as much to a 4-year-old as a 10-year-old, and caregivers in the mix are sure to enjoy it as well. It’s a perfect beginner manga with its lighthearted humor and overall cute factor.