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Coming-of-Age Graphic Novels That Take Place in Summertime

Take a dive into summer with these Graphic Novels! Summertime is a time of transition, especially in those years in between childhood and teenage years. These coming-of-age stories involve exploring identity, growing up, grief, change, friendship, and belonging. Graphic Novels are real books and their stories can be powerful and important.

LumberJanes created by N.D. Stevenson

Adventure into the deep woods where Lumberjane Scouts spend their summer at Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqel Crumpets Camp for Hardcore Lady Types where Molly, Mal, Jo, April, and Ripley attend over the summer to be in the great outdoors, learn wilderness skills, and make friendship bracelets–or so they thought. They soon realize there is more to this camp than outdoor adventure. Magical creatures lurk through the woods, portals to other worlds, and Greek mythos come to life. Together they grow in knowledge, strength, and friendship and learn a lot about themselves along the way. This is a wonderful graphic novel series that has 22 volumes and is perfect for the outdoorsy or magically-interested person.

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

Just before the summer between elementary school and junior high, Astrid and her best friend, Nicole, get to see a roller derby competition and Astrid loves it and decides it would be amazing for Nicole and her to go to Jr. Roller Derby Camp over the summer. Nicole, however, has other plans. Instead, Nicole wants to go to ballet camp with Rachel, a kid who bullies Astrid. Nicole’s decision stings and now Astrid must begin her summer without Nicole. As the new chapter of her life looms closer, Astrid can grow and explore her own interests and identity even if that means moving on from friendships that no longer work and making room for new friends who lift her up.

The Girl From the Sea by Molly Knox Ostertag

After a near-death experience, a chance encounter with a mysterious girl from the sea creates a dilemma for 15 year-old Morgan who feels a lot of pressure to be what she thinks everyone wants her to be. Truthfully, she actually wants to escape her family, her friends, and life. Morgan and the mystery girl form a fast bond, but both are keeping secrets from each other. They can only hide for so long before everything comes bubbling up to the surface. This queer coming-of-age story explores complicated family dynamics, working through loneliness, and coming to terms with identity. The author, Molly Knox Ostertag is best known for her graphic novel series, The Witch Boy, and work on the cartoon series, The Owl House.

Aquicorn Cove by Kay O'Neill

Lana and her dad take a trip to Aquicorn Cove to help her Aunt Mae rebuild her small fishing and farming village after a destructive storm. Lana reminisces on her time spent in Aquicorn Cove as a younger child with her mom and the lessons she learned on how to care for the sea and its creatures. Soon Lana will uncover that the sea, its reef, and the Aquicorns are under threat, but Lana soon learns what is causing the changes to the reef and sets out to make things right. Along the way, the story addresses grief, change, family life, growing up, and caring for the land (and sea) we belong to. The graphics are muted and reflect the seriousness of the story while also providing a sweet whimsy that can appeal to all ages. Our main character, Lana, also narrates the story and provides a quietude and introspective look at her time in Aquicorn Cove.

All Summer Long by Hope Larson

Bina always spends summer with her best friend, Austin, but this summer Austin spends a month at soccer camp instead. To fill her time, Bina practices guitar and watches tv, but soon gets bored and starts hanging out with Austin’s older sister who has a passion for playing punk music. The story explores growth, changing friendships, and self-discovery during the strange period between childhood and teenage years.

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol

Vera is a first generation Russian-Jewish American. She is just trying to fit in, but it feels like her family cannot stand but make it more difficult for her. In an attempt to find friends and have a typical American kid summer, Vera wants to go to summer camp, but the only one in her price range is a Russian summer camp. Still, that could be perfect. Perhaps the kids there will be just like her! When Vera finds out that she is still not fitting in here at camp, she despairs, especially since the camp is rustic and Vera’s day is filled with difficult activities. Despite having a harrowing time with the strict camp, difficult environment, and tough older kids, Vera creates a memorable summer and learns about belonging and true friendship.

As a suggestion, this book may not be the best to give to a kid who is going to stay at summer camp for the first time but rather kids who have already been to camp and enjoyed it since the camp Vera attends is not a typical experience and may scare younger kids away from summer camp.

If you enjoyed this list, you can find more graphic novels in our SHARE library catalog! Ask your librarians for recommendations.

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