12 Latest Installments in Transitional, Middle Grade, and YA Graphic Novel Series

Which books work well as standalones, and which are best for series fans? Use our input to navigate whether to begin or expand these series selections at your library.

Join us as we look at some of the newest titles in popular emerging reader, middle grade, and young adult graphic novel series. Which installments work well as standalones, and which books are best for series fans? Use our input below to navigate decisions to begin or expand series selections for your library’s collection.


Abdo, Dan & Jason Patterson. Big Time Troubleillus. by Dan Abdo & Jason Patterson. 128p. (Blue, Barry & Pancakes: Bk. 5). First Second. Jan. 2023. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9781250816979.
Gr 2-4–In this fifth series entry, best friends and housemates Blue (a worm), Barry (a green frog), and Pancakes (a large yellow rabbit) prepare for Blue to give a grand poetry reading in their yard, when he suddenly develops a bout of stage fright. Using Barry’s recently invented time machine helmets, the trio goes back in time to retrieve lucky items from Blue’s ancestors to help him feel more confident. Shenanigans ensue. Readers who love expressive animal characters, boldly colored art, and wacky adventures will not be disappointed. Important lessons involving luck, performance anxiety, and the importance of good friends tie the story together. VERDICT Readers both new and familiar to the series will enjoy this latest volume.

Dickerson, Mason. Lost and Found. illus. by Mason Dickerson. 192p. (Housecat Trouble: Bk. 2). Random House Graphic. Jan. 2023. Tr $13.99. ISBN 9780593173480.
Gr 2-5–In this second book in the series, yellow housecat Buster tries to help a lost small white cat nicknamed Onion find his home while avoiding the menacing dogcatcher. Their paths intertwine with orange cat Chauncey and gray cat Nova, two spirit-hunters whom Buster worked with in the first installment. Organized by short chapters, this otherworldly tale is a quick read that will entertain readers who enjoy talking animal graphic novels. The cartoony art is reminiscent of 1990s Nickelodeon cartoons and incorporates exaggerated faces, rounded lines, and sound effects in bubbly font. VERDICT Lack of essential worldbuilding details at the beginning of this graphic novel might hamper the enjoyment of readers unfamiliar with the series. Purchase where the first book is popular.

Feuti, Norm. Snow Birds. illus. by Norm Feuti. 64p. (Beak & Ally: Bk. 4). HarperAlley. Jan. 2023. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9780063021679.
Gr 1-3–In this fourth volume of the series, wintertime brings a flock of migratory birds (aka “snow birds”) to the swamp, much to Beak’s delight and Ally’s chagrin. It’s all fun and dance parties at first when Beak invites Ruffles, Chirpy, and crew to stay at his tree. However, the snow birds quickly outstay their welcome. When the snow birds reject Beak after being told to move, it’s up to Ally to support her feathered friend and make things right. Early readers who enjoy expressive animal characters will enjoy diving into this brightly colored, easy-to-follow graphic novel. This short but sweet exploration of friendship highlights the importance of respecting others’ space and boundaries. VERDICT Familiarity with the series is helpful but not essential. Fans of Brian “Smitty” Smith’s “Pea, Bee, & Jay” will likely enjoy this series.

Grant, Shauna J. Mimi and the Boo-Hoo Blahs. illus. by Shauna J. Grant. 80p. (Mimi: Bk. 2). Scholastic/Graphix. Feb. 2023. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9781338766707; pap. $7.99. ISBN 9781338766691.
Gr 1-3–In this sequel to Mimi and the Cutie Catastrophe , Mimi wakes up one morning to discover she has a growing case of the Blahs. With her magical toy dog Penelope by her side, Mimi explores different ways that people improve their mood, thanks to her friends Mateo, Nina, Katie, and Sadie. As her case of Blahs gets bigger and bigger, Mimi learns a valuable lesson about facing her feelings. Overall, this adorable graphic chapter book is an easy-to-follow tale that tackles relatable emotions. The pastel, manga-influenced artwork, especially the imagination sequences and the lumpy blue Blah blob, keeps the narrative tone light even when Mimi feels incredibly blah. Characters are depicted with various shades of brown skin as well as different hairstyles; one character wears glasses. VERDICT The opposite of blah! New series readers as well as fans of the first Mimi volume will definitely be happy with this adorable graphic novel.

Harrell, Rob. Go Pig or Go Home. illus. by Rob Harrell. 240p. (Batpig: Bk. 3). Dial. Mar. 2023. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9780593531945.
Gr 2-4–Batpig, aka Gary Yorkshire, is back in this third graphic novel in the series from author/illustrator Harrell, split into two stories. First, Gary cuts corners with magic powder when preparing for a test and ends up cheating with the help of Sharkraham Lincoln. When an evil squidclown later appears on the roof of Gary’s school and begins a reign of benign devastation, it’s up to Batpig to save the day and undo the effects of his academic dishonesty. In the second story, Gary, along with fish Carl and bat Brook, are off to Camp Moldy Snout, where Carl accidentally angers lake monster Grumbles when he pollutes the lake with bug spray made from pork by-products. While saving the day, Batpig accidentally reveals his identity, which leads to a personal crisis over anonymity versus celebrity. This briskly paced middle grade graphic novel is a great pick for those who enjoy extreme silliness and anthropomorphic animals. Quirky character designs, dark linework, and an overabundance of text result in illustrations that burst with as much enthusiasm as Gary has for Pop-Tarts. VERDICT A unique take on superheroes that can be read as a standalone or as part of the series.

Matthews, Andy. Tiny Aunt Islandillus. by Peader Thomas. 128p. (Gustav & Henri: Bk. 2). Red Comet. Mar. 2023. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9781636550480.
Gr 2-5–In this second volume of the series, problem-solving duo pig Gustav and cocker spaniel Henri find themselves repeatedly pulled into wacky and humorous adventures over the course of three short stories. In “Gustav, Lost Pig,” the duo get caught in a storm while white water rafting, ending up on a desert island that is more than meets the eye. When a puzzle piece falls down their kitchen sink, the only obvious solution is to shrink down and go after it in “Gustav, Micro-Pig.” Lastly, Henri and Gustav investigate the disappearance of Gustav’s agoraphobic aunt in “Detective Gustav and the Great Aunt Hunt.” Young readers, particularly those with shorter ­attention spans, will enjoy the quick pace of the stories and striking black, orange, and gray-hued illustrations. VERDICT ­Easily read as a standalone and will appeal to readers who enjoy uniquely designed graphic novels.

McCanna, Tim. Rule at School! illus. by Tim McCanna. 96p. (Peach and Plum: Bk. 2). Little, Brown Ink. Feb. 2023. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9780316306300; pap. $7.99. ISBN 9780316306409.
Gr 1-3–School is in session at Fruitdale Elementary for the rhyming best friends Peach and Plum in this series sequel. The duo and their classmates find themselves in many relatable situations, like adjusting to a substitute teacher, looking for lost objects, and dealing with stage fright. The emphasis on rhyming within the graphic novel adds pop to an engaging and well-paced reading experience. Brightly colored artwork and goofy characters make for a visual treat that goes down sweet. A wide variety of fruits (ranging from apple, lemon, and peach to persimmon, guava, and fig) are represented within the book. This title can be read as a standalone. VERDICT A berry good pick for emerging readers who enjoy a good rhyme, anytime. Recommended for public and school libraries.

Raúl the Third. Tacos Today. illus. by Raúl the Third. 56p. (El Toro and Friends). HarperCollins/Versify. Mar. 2023. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9780358539377.
Gr 1-3–Young El Toro and his fellow luchadores (Armor Dillo, Lizards, Jack A. Lopez, and La Oink Oink) want tacos for lunch but lack the funds to make it happen. After taking the party bus to Taco Square, the group starts performing their luchador skills in order to earn the required taco money and ultimately satisfy their hungry bellies. In this early reader graphic novel–style work, which employs a mix of paneled pages and ample full spreads, detailed backgrounds combined with upbeat and expressive character design allow young readers to fully immerse themselves in the anthropomorphic animal “World of ¡Vamos!” Centered on a fairly benign conflict (aka getting money for tacos), the short but focused plot emphasizes problem-solving, positivity, and teamwork. The incorporated Spanish words and phrases within the text stand out thanks to purple font color, and their meanings are easy to decipher from surrounding context. VERDICT A great pick for beginning readers who are just getting the hang of graphic novels. Only downside? It will make you hungry for tacos!


Middle Grade

Green, Alejandra & Fanny Rodriguez. Lost Legends of Nothing. illus. by Alejandra Green & Fanny Rodriguez. 320p. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen. Jan. 2023. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9780062839510; pap. $13.99. ISBN 9780062839503.
Gr 3-6–Adventure and mystery await the questing team of human Nathan, fae Haven, crow Sina, and wolf Bardou in this sequel to Fantastic Tales of Nothing. The land of Nothing is full of strife now that the Court and the Empire are at war. Even among the courtesan volken, or magical shape-shifters, there are divisions. As visions reveal fragments of the past to Nathan, the team travels to the Edge in order to learn how to stop villain Stryx’s possession of Haven and takeover of the continent. Unraveling the mysterious disappearance of ancient fae leader Lerina may lead to defeating Stryx for good if time does not run out first. Readers who enjoy humor, magic, and epic questing will find much to enjoy in this artfully illustrated middle grade graphic novel. Characters are complex and diverse, especially amongst the main character team, with a mixture of species and skin tones; Haven uses they/them pronouns. However, certain worldbuilding aspects will make more sense if readers are familiar with the events of the first book. VERDICT Purchase for libraries where fantasy graphic novels are in demand.

Magoon, Scott. Flight of the Mammoth. illus. by Scott Magoon. 160p. (Extincts: Bk. 2). Abrams/Amulet. Mar. 2023. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781419752520; pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781419752537.
Gr 3-5–In this sequel to series starter Quest for the Unicorn Horn, the Extincts try to raise funds by opening a zoo and gift shop at ROAR headquarters. Bear Ursa, passenger pigeon Martie, saber-toothed tiger Scratch, and poison frog Quito all support this new endeavor; however, mammoth Lug just wants to be out in the world helping others. After Lug loses his temper at a zoo visitor, he quits the venture and heads to California to fight wildfires. When a mysterious arsonist turns out to be an unexpected foe with a fiery desire for vengeance, Lug and the rest of the Extincts must save the day once more. Strikingly rendered, this action-packed middle grade graphic novel blends a quest for purpose with a strong environmental message. Readers will also gain a crash course in smokejumpers and wildfires. VERDICT Purchase where the first book is popular, as context with the Extincts’ origins is a must.

Venable, Colleen AF. Secrets and Sidekicks. illus. by Stephanie Yue. 224p. (Katie the Catsitter: Bk. 3). Random House Graphic. May 2023. Tr $20.99. ISBN 9780593379691; pap. $13.99. ISBN 9780593379721.
Gr 3-6–In this third installment, middle schooler Katie continues to train as a sidekick for secret superhero Mousetress and her cadre of 217 highly intelligent cats. Rampaging robots keep appearing all over town, but no one believes Katie when she accuses Benito Benton (aka Eastern Screech) of being the mastermind behind the chaos. Her struggles with physical sidekick training alongside friendship drama result in even more stress. When Katie’s overworked mom starts to join her for “cat sitting,” Katie wonders how much longer she can keep her sidekick-life a secret…or if she’ll have to give it up for good. This well-paced, visually appealing middle grade graphic novel ­continues to develop its unique superhero world. Katie is a relatable main character who struggles with feelings of inadequacy, jealousy, and doubt. The multitude of cats and their special ops roles, such as Mew Mew the disguise expert and Seamus the Math Genius, add humor to the storyline. Represented within the artwork is a diverse cast that includes white (Katie and her mom, Jess), brown-skinned (Beth, Marie), and Black (Madeline) characters. VERDICT Fans of the series will eagerly devour this latest volume.


Young Adult

Gray, Claudia. The Treacherous Hope. illus. by Eric Zawadzki. 208p. (House of El: Bk. 3). DC Comics. Feb. 2023. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9781401296094.
Gr 9 Up–This final book in the trilogy opens with society elite Zahn and soldier Sera learning the unpleasant prophetic truth that the planet Krypton is days away from exploding. When Zahn confronts Lara and Jor-El, he learns of their plan to launch a spaceship with Lara’s soon-to-be born baby to safety and preserve the legacy of the Kryptonian people. Meanwhile, Sera must deal with rumblings of an uprising by rebel group Midnight. As earthquakes continue to rattle the planet, General Zod’s coup to unseat the Tribunals begins. Little does the General know that Krypton is beyond saving…and time is almost up. Readers who have been eagerly following the final days of Krypton over the course of this series will not be disappointed by the conclusion. The immersive, detailed artwork within this young adult graphic novel will captivate readers, as will the interplanetary conflict and doom in the narrative. Depicted episodes of violence, as well as Sera and Zahn’s off-page consummation of their relationship, should be taken into consideration when recommending it for teens. VERDICT Purchase where the first two volumes are popular.

Pearl Derlaga, York County, P.L., VA

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