2020 is a phenomenal year for graphic novels! From epic fantasy adventures to contemporary, and even steampunk, there’s so many graphic novels from authors of color that’ve been released and have yet to debut on shelves!
On The Booked Shelf I’m recommending 10 graphic novels (either recently released or upcoming) by authors of color, that you should add to your TBR!
Nori by Rumi Hara
Release Date: May 12, 2020
Summary: Nori (short for Noriko) is a spirited three-year-old girl who lives with her parents and grandmother in the suburbs of Osaka during the 1980s. While both parents work full-time, her grandmother is Nori’s caregiver and companion—forever following after Nori as the three year old dashes off on fantastical adventures.
One day Nori runs off to be met by an army of bats—the symbol of happiness. Soon after, she is at school chasing a missing rabbit while performing as a moon in the school play, touching on the myth of the Moon Rabbit. A ditch by the side of the road opens a world of kids, crawfish, and beetles, not to mention the golden frog and albino salamander. That night, her grandma takes to the Bon Odori festival to dance with her ancestors. When Nori wins a trip to Hawaii, she finds herself swimming with a sea turtle, though she doesn’t know how to swim.
Banned Book Club by Kim Hyun Sook, Ryan Estrada, & Ko Hyung-Jo (illustrator)
Release Date: May 19, 2020
Summary: When Kim Hyun Sook started college in 1983 she was ready for her world to open up. After acing her exams and sort-of convincing her traditional mother that it was a good idea for a woman to go to college, she looked forward to soaking up the ideas of Western Literature far from the drudgery she was promised at her family’s restaurant. But literature class would prove to be just the start of a massive turning point, still focused on reading but with life-or-death stakes she never could have imagined.
This was during South Korea’s Fifth Republic, a military regime that entrenched its power through censorship, torture, and the murder of protestors. In this charged political climate, with Molotov cocktails flying and fellow students disappearing for hours and returning with bruises, Hyun Sook sought refuge in the comfort of books. When the handsome young editor of the school newspaper invited her to his reading group, she expected to pop into the cafeteria to talk about Moby Dick, Hamlet, and The Scarlet Letter. Instead she found herself hiding in a basement as the youngest member of an underground banned book club. And as Hyun Sook soon discovered, in a totalitarian regime, the delights of discovering great works of illicit literature are quickly overshadowed by fear and violence as the walls close in.
Suncatcher by José Pimienta
Release Date: May 19, 2020
Summary: If life wasn’t already hard enough for Beatriz — being a teenager, trying to start a band, and going to school — then she discovers that her grandfather’s soul has been trapped in an old guitar, and that the only way to free him is to play the perfect song . . . his perfect song, a song that he never actually wrote down. She’s determined to save her grandfather, but as music slowly takes over her life, she soon finds herself growing obsessed with his song, and making it absolutely flawless, at the expense of her friendships, her band, and her health.
Beatriz won’t let anything stop her, not even her own limitations. Creating a magical song is already a lot of pressure, but Beatriz will have to make some hard choices before it’s too late for her grandfather . . . and for herself.
Sky Island by Amy Chu & Janet K. Lee (Illustrator) (Sea Sirens #2)
Release Date: June 9, 2020
Summary: The stunning sequel to Sea Sirens, the middle-grade graphic novel about a spunky Vietnamese American surfer girl and her cantankerous talking cat. This time Trot and Cap’n Bill have to rescue a Sea Siren friend from the clutches of a ruthless amusement park owner.
School’s out and Trot and Cap’n Bill are looking forward to a carefree summer of surfing. But trouble surfaces when Grandpa hooks a message in a bottle while fishing. Clia, the Sea Siren princess, and Anko, King of the Sea Serpents, need their help: Merla, their Sea Siren friend, has been kidnapped!
Trot, her cat, and her grandfather join the rescue effort which takes them to an old abandoned amusement park island resort, where plans are afoot for a grand re-opening. But who is behind this development? Enter Rosalie, an environmentalist with a personal grudge against the developer. She can tell them a thing or two about the mysterious Mr. Buluru and his secret plans for the park. And Trot has a pretty good idea who the new main attraction of the park will be–but not if she and her crew get to that tank and free Merla first!
City Of Secrets by Victoria Ying
Release Date: July 28, 2020
Summary: Ever Barnes is a shy orphan guarding a secret in an amazing puzzle box of a building.
Most of the young women who work at the building’s Switchboard Operating Facility, which connects the whole city of Oskar, look the other way as Ever roams around in the shadows. But one of them, Lisa, keeps an eye on the boy. So does the head of the Switchboard, Madame Alexander . . . a rather sharp eye.
Enter Hannah, the spunky daughter of the building’s owner. She thinks Ever needs a friend, even if he doesn’t know it yet.
Good thing she does!
Lisa and Madame Alexander are each clearly up to something.
Ever is beset by a menacing band of rogues looking to unlock the secret he holds–at any cost. And whatever is hidden deep in the Switchboard building will determine all of their futures.
On a journey that twists and turns as much as the mechanical building Ever Barnes calls home, he and his new friend Hannah have to – and out what’s really going on in this mysterious city of secrets . . . or else!
A Map To The Sun by Sloane Leong
Release Date: August 4, 2020
Summary: One summer day, Ren meets Luna at a beachside basketball court and a friendship is born. But when Luna moves to back to Oahu, Ren’s messages to her friend go unanswered.
Years go by. Then Luna returns, hoping to rekindle their friendship. Ren is hesitant. She’s dealing with a lot, including family troubles, dropping grades, and the newly formed women’s basketball team at their highschool. With Ren’s new friends and Luna all on the basketball team, the lines between their lives on and off the court begin to blur. During their first season, this diverse and endearing group of teens are challenged in ways that make them reevaluate just who and how they trust.
Séance Tea Party by Reimena Yee
Release Date: September 15, 2020
Summary: Lora doesn’t want to grow up! Afraid that she is the magic of her childhood, Lora will do anything to stop it . . . including befriending Alexa, the ghost who haunts her house. A middle-grade graphic novel that focuses growing up and what that means for you and all the relationships you have in your life. This book is perfect for fans of Ghosts and Making Friends.
Growing up sounds terrible.
No one has time to do anything fun, or play outside, or use their imagination. Everything is suddenly so serious. People are more interested in their looks and what others think about them than having fun adventures. Who wants that?
After watching her circle of friends seemingly fade away, Lora is determined to still have fun on her own. A tea party with a twist lease Lora to discovering Alex, the ghost that haunts her house — and Lora’s old imaginary friend! Lora and Alexa are thrilled to meet kindred spirits and they become best friends . . . but unfortunately, not everything can last forever.
The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen
Release Date: October 13, 2020
Summary: Real life isn’t a fairytale.
But Tiến still enjoys reading his favorite stories with his parents from the books he borrows from the local library. It’s hard enough trying to communicate with your parents as a kid, but for Tiến, he doesn’t even have the right words because his parents are struggling with their English. Is there a Vietnamese word for what he’s going through?
Is there a way to tell them he’s gay?
A beautifully illustrated story by Trung Le Nguyen that follows a young boy as he tries to navigate life through fairytales, an instant classic that shows us how we are all connected.
b.b free Vol. 1 by Gabby Rivera & Royal Dunlap (illustrator) (B.B. Free #1)
Release Date: October 27, 2020
Summary: It’s been over twenty years since the Plague That Ate Greed wiped out half the population, and it’s the only world that b.b. has ever known.
Broadcasting her underground radio show from her remote swamp community, b.b. free has no idea about the world outside her home – or her role in it! But when b.b. discovers a terrible secret about her overbearing father, she realizes that everything she believes in could be a lie!
Now on the run from her own family, b.b. will learn the truth about the world she lives in, and about the power she never knew she had.
Odessa by Jonathan Hill
Release Date: November 3, 2020
Summary: Eight years ago an earthquake—the Big One—hit along the Cascadia fault line, toppling cities and changing landscapes all up and down the west coast of the United States. Life as we know it changed forever. But for Vietnamese-American Virginia Crane, life changed shortly after the earthquake, when her mother left and never came back.
Ginny has gotten used to a life without her mother, helping her father take care of her two younger brothers, Wes and Harry. But when a mysterious package arrives for her eighteenth birthday, her life is shaken up yet again. For the first time, Ginny wants something more than to survive. And it might be a selfish desire, but she’s determined to find out what happened to her mother—even if it means leaving her family behind.