Nonfiction Graphic Novel
Coral Reefs: Cities of the Ocean (Science Comics) by Maris Wicks
Information on what coral is, coral's ecosystem, and how global warming is destroying coral- also includes introduction to many types of sea life according to classification, coral research, and what we can do to save the coral. This one is technically middle grade, but approachable for lower grade readers.
Express Train to Trouble (Miss Mallard Mysteries) by Robert M. Quackenbush
Death on the Nile meets Murder on the Orient Express for lower grade readers in this Agatha Christie inspired series about a duck solving mysteries.
Frost Friends Forever (Diary of an Ice Princess, #2) by Christina Soontornvat
Disaster strikes for Lina when she gets to have her best friend sleep over for 3 days, but her critical Great Aunt is there messing up their fun. Only when the plan she concocted to get away and have fun puts them in danger do her Great Aunt's words start to ring true. A fun fantasy story, with a Thai main character (and author), that has an important lesson about keeping your promises, thinking of others, and listening to the wisdom of elders.
The Fran That Time Forgot (Franny K. Stein, Mad Scientist, #4) by Jim Benton
Franny has a revelation about being laughed at when she travels through the time-machine she built to try to avoid being laughed at. This is one of the best defenses I know! Laugh along! (P.S. Has anyone ever written a time-slip book for lower grades? Can’t think of one, so we’re bending the rules and putting a time travel book here. Feel free to do the same if you’re struggling to find one too.)
The Desert Challenge (Bear Grylls Adventure, #2) by Bear Grylls
In this series, kids are transported by a magic compass to a survival situation where they can learn survival techniques and a little life lesson from Bear Grylls.
Boris Gets a Lizard (Boris, #2) by Andrew Joyner
Boris is obsessed with Komodo dragons. Every Tuesday he gives a talk about them in his class. Being the big dreamer that he is, he gets the idea to write a letter to the zoo asking for the Komodo Dragon to take a vacation to his house. Then he starts preparing. He invites everyone to come to see the dragon on Saturday before finding out that Komodo Dragons don't take vacations. When he has to think of a solution on the fly, chaos ensues.
Squirreled Away (The Dead Sea Squirrels, #1) by Mike Nawroki, ill. by Luke Séguin-Magee
A boy spending the summer near the Dead Sea with his professor father wanders into a cave and discovers squirrels preserved in dead sea salt. He sneaks them home unaware that they will come back to life.
Anne Arrives adapted by Kallie George, ill. by Abigail Halpin
This is the beginning story of Anne of Green Gables for younger kids- probably 1-3 grade. Unlike most adaptations, it is artfully done with dreamy watercolor illustrations as whimsical as Anne herself.
The Princess and the Warrior: a Tale of Two Volcanoes by Duncan Tonatiuh
The legend of how the Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl volcanoes overlooking Mexico City came to be there.
Big Mouth Elizabeth (Elizabeth Case, #2) by Rachel Vail, ill. by Paige Kaiser
Elizabeth is having friendship struggles in second grade. All the children in her class have lost baby teeth except for her and "babyish" Cali. As the girls who have lost teeth form a "Big Mouth" club, Elizabeth feels more desperate to lose a tooth and be in the club. She is frustrated that people move at their own pace and that she has been grouped with babyish Cali. When her mom is fully aware of what is going on, she helps Elizabeth learn some lessons about name-calling, and about being brave to stand up against the crowd.
Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan
Seemingly innocuous words are matched with frightening images. Reminds me of what it was like to be a kid who took things really seriously and sweat the small stuff; even small things seem huge.
(This is technically a middle grade book, but approachable to lower grades.)
Kai and the Monkey King (Brownstone’s Mythical Collection, #3) by Joe Todd-Stanton
This third book of the adventurous archeology Brownstone family ventures to Asia where Kai is training with her mother to maintain the magical world, and solve its problems. One day when Kai's mother spends, what is a boring afternoon to Kai, doing research in the library, Kai sets off on her own and releases the Monkey King from his eternal binds. While she has an exciting time with the Monkey King, they end up falling out because neither is patient, and both have their own priorities. Kai returns to try to help her mother with the devouring monster she was researching to find her about to be eaten!
Fiction Graphic Novel
Tiger vs. Nightmare by Emily Tetri
Tiger's friend monster wards away his nightmares night after night. Eventually a nightmare comes that monster is too scared of. The two friends will work together to rid themselves of the nightmare.
Titan and the Wild Boars: the True Cave Rescue of the Thai Soccer Team by Susan Hood & Patthana Sornhiran, ill. by Dow Phumiruk
This book chronicles the real-life, 18-day saga of a boy's soccer team that became trapped in a cave when rains flooded their exit.
(This book is another middle grade book that is approachable for lower grade readers.)
Nonfiction History Book
The Great New York Subway Map by Emiliano Ponzi
Massimo Vignelli, an Italian immigrant and graphic designer was hired to make a sensible subway map for NYC. His sleek design is now used on metro systems all over the world.
Mighty Meg and the Magical Ring (Mighty Meg, #1) by Sammy Griffin, ill. by Micah Player
Meg gets a beautiful Viking ring from her Aunt who does archaeological digs around the world. During the next school day, she begins to notice that while she is wearing the ring, she has special powers. The only problem is, she doesn't know if she is brave enough to be a superhero.
Nonfiction Science Book
Gross as a Snot Otter (The World of Weird Animals) by Jess Keating, ill. by David DeGrand
If you've ever wondered about the grosser habits of animals, say herring flatulence, then this book is for you! I love this series that explores some strange creatures based on their features. The format is so fun and kids are drawn right into a book like this. I also like that in the back, Keating challenges our thinking about what is gross, or weird, or bad. Animals are designed to do what they do do after all!
Nate the Great and the Missing Key (Nate the Great, #6) by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, ill. by Marc Simont
Nate the Great solves a riddle left in a note by the strange Rosamond ( my favorite Nate the Great character for her weeeirdness). Gets kids thinking about answers that fit some of the clues but not all of the clues. When he finally has an answer that fits all clues then he finds the answer!
Time Travel Book
Do-you-think-he-saurus?! (The Bad Guys, #7) by Aaron Blabey
In the present, Agent Fox is about to be annihilated by the attacking aliens. In the past, the Bad Guys are trying to make it home to warn planet earth about the attack. However, they've landed in the age of the dinosaurs. Will the make it back in time to save Agent Fox from destruction?
Sisters & Champions: the True Story of Venus and Serena Williams by Howard Bryant, ill. by Floyd Cooper
How two sisters became the first black women to play tennis professionally, to become champions, and above all keep family first.
Fairy Tale Rewrite
The Rough-Face Girl by Rafe Martin, ill. by David Shannon
A Native American twist on the Cinderella story.
Jasmine Toguchi, Mochi Queen (Jasmine Toguchi, #1) by Debbi Mochiko Florence, ill. by Elizabet Vukovic
Jasmine desperately wants to help with making mochi when her family celebrates the Japanese new year. Her older sister is helping for the first time this year and she wants to do something before her bossy sister. Jasmine has the idea that she can help pound the mochi, which is traditionally a man's job. She builds up her strength for the big moment hoping to get to be a part of the festivities.
Brobots and the Mecha Malarkey! (Brobots, #2) J. Torres, ill. by Sean Dove
Hansel and Gretel and The Gingerbread man folktales in a futuristic robotic society...complete with ninja bread men. Quite a good twist on these old stories- especially when the protagonists recognize their mistakes and make amends.
Biography, Autobiography, or Memoir
So Tall Within: Sojourner Truth’s Long Walk to Freedom by Gary D. Schmidt, ill. by Daniel Minter
The life of Sojourner Truth- told in incredible illustrations and lovely lyrical language. She was an inspirational person who stood up for her family and for change during a time of injustice and slavery.
What's on Your Plate?: Exploring the World of Food by Whitney Stewart, ill. by Christiane Engel
Take a trip around the world and read about foods grown, raised, or caught in that country. Learn about a few of their dishes. Make a recipe from each country.