Books for Kids: Summer reads for graphic novel lovers

Swim Team, Swan Lake and PAWS are all good for kicking back during vacation.

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If you’re looking for ways to keep your kids occupied when school ends next month, why not acquire 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 ages eight to 12.

Swim Team: Small Waves, Big Changes

Written and illustrated by Johnnie Christmas


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. Bree, a puzzle-loving math aficionado, worries about leaving her friends behind, but in Florida she quickly makes new friends and settles into a new school. The only problem is her fourth-period elective; Math Puzzles is full. The only thing available is Swim 101 — but Bree doesn’t swim, and dreads the sight of a pool. The colourful art with which Vancouver’s Johnnie Christmas spins this tale benefits greatly from the likable (and several unlikable) characters that people the book. Bree’s determination — and the help of a kind neighbour who — sees her conquer her fear of water, and teaches readers not only about achieving a goal but also about battling prejudice and racism. It may also prompt readers to search the internet for the namesake of Bree’s new school, Enith Brigitha, the first Black woman to win an Olympic medal for swimming.

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Swan Lake: Quest for the Kingdoms

By Rey Terciero

Illustrated by Megan Kearney


Lovers of fantasy and fairy tales are bound to enjoy this reimagining of the classic story of Swan Lake. Cursed as an infant to turn into a swan every morning and back into a human every night, young Princess Odette forms an unlikely friendship with Dillie (Princess Odile), whose father is falsely accused of having caused the curse. Together with Siegfried (aka Fred), the young prince from a third kingdom who’s trying to prove his leadership abilities, and a huge bear with whom he communicates, they set out on a quest to get a WishMage to remove the curse. Toronto’s Megan Kearney infuses the images with plenty of action, especially when depicting Odette’s graceful movements in flight and Dillie’s warrior-like antics.

PAWS: Gabby Gets It Together

By Nathan Fairbairn

Illustrated by Michele Assarasakorn


Set in East Vancouver, a diverse community, this series starter introduces middle-grade readers to three schoolmates who, while different from each other, become good friends: Gabby Jordan, who is in Grade 5; Priya Gupta and Mindy Park, who are in Grade 6. All three love animals but, for various reasons, have no pets. Instead, they form PAWS (Pretty Awesome WalkerS), a dog-walking club, to make some extra cash and spend time with animals. Inevitable disputes arise among the girls as they plan the club and sign up five customers, and Gabby eventually ends up handling all five dogs by herself — with disastrous results. Needless to say, friendship wins out in the end and the three PAWS members are set to return in print. Both author and illustrator live in Vancouver, and the characters they’ve created should soon have a loyal following that sees the series through summer and beyond.

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