It’s a new year, which means new books to look forward to! In 2021, there’s a fantastic line-up of graphic novels. From the range of stories to the phenomenal artwork accompanying them, don’t miss these upcoming reads!
Today on The Booked Shelf I’m recommending titles across fantasy, steampunk, and historical fiction, celebrating these 2021 graphic novels!
Aster And The Mixed-Up Magic by Thom Pico and Karensac (Illustrator)
Summary: Magic turned Aster’s life upside-down — and it’s not over! Get ready for more family, more fun, and even more magic in this graphic novel adventure.
Moving to the middle of nowhere has been less of a disaster than Aster expected. Her mom’s science experiments are actually pretty cool; her dad’s cooking has gotten much better; her new dog is possibly the best canine companion anyone could ask for.
And she’s gotten to save the day — and her family — and the whole valley she lives in — from various magical calamities in what even she has to admit were extremely fun adventures. So now she can have a break, right?
Oh no; things get even more interesting.
The Legend Of Auntie Po by Shing Yin Khor
Summary: Part historical fiction, part magical realism, and 100 percent adventure. Thirteen-year-old Mei reimagines the myths of Paul Bunyan as starring a Chinese heroine as she works in a Sierra Nevada logging camp in 1885.
Aware of the racial tumult in the years after the passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, Mei tries to remain blissfully focused on her job, her close friendship with the camp foreman’s daughter, and telling stories about Paul Bunyan–reinvented as Po Pan Yin (Auntie Po), an elderly Chinese matriarch.
Anchoring herself with stories of Auntie Po, Mei navigates the difficulty and politics of lumber camp work and her growing romantic feelings for her friend Bee. The Legend of Auntie Po is about who gets to own a myth and immigrant families and communities holding on to rituals and traditions while staking out their own place in America.
Sprite And The Gardener by Joe Whitt and Rii Abrego (Illustrator)
Summary: Long, long ago, sprites were the caretakers of gardens. Every flower was grown by their hand. But when humans appeared and began growing their own gardens, the sprites’ magical talents soon became a thing of the past.
When Wisteria, an ambitious, kind-hearted sprite, starts to ask questions about the way things used to be, she’ll begin to unearth her long-lost talent of gardening. But her newly honed skills might not be the welcome surprise she intends them to be.
Bursting with whimsical art and vibrant characters, join our neighborhood of sprites in this beautiful, gentle fantasy where both gardens and friendships begin to blossom.
The Tea Dragon Tapestry by Katie O’Neill
Summary: Over a year since being entrusted with Ginseng’s care, Greta still can’t chase away the cloud of mourning that hangs over the timid Tea Dragon.
As she struggles to create something spectacular enough to impress a master blacksmith in search of an apprentice, she questions the true meaning of crafting, and the true meaning of caring for someone in grief.
Meanwhile, Minette receives a surprise package from the monastery where she was once training to be a prophetess. Thrown into confusion about her path in life, the shy and reserved Minette finds that the more she opens her heart to others, the more clearly she can see what was always inside.
[Full ARC review here]
City Of Illusion by Victoria Ying
Summary: It’s been a peaceful three months since Hannah Morgan and Ever Barnes saved their beloved Oskars, and activated the powers of their city’s Megantic. Ever now lives with the Morgan family and the two children watch over and learn more about Oskar (the Megantic) every day.
But their conflict-free days come to an abrupt end when Mr. Morgan is captured while on a family trip to nearby Alexios, and the kids get into a spat with a group of street magicians who con Hannah out of her pocket money. Chifa and Tanan were never planning to make friends while performing their tricks, but when Hannah and Ever learn of their connection to Vash, they realize there’s much more at stake than a few coins.
If Hannah and Ever want to find out what Vash is hiding and save both Oskars and Alexios before time runs out, they’ll have to learn to trust Chifa and Tanan, and most importantly, find a way to work together.
Squire by Nadia Shammas and Sarah Alfageeh
Summary: Set in a Middle Eastern-inspired fantasy world, 14-year-old-girl Aiza lives in an Empire wracked by famine and escalating border wars. Aiza dreams of becoming a knight, the most prestigious rank in the military, and the only way to elevate her status since her people, the Ornu, are second-class citizens in the Bayt-Saji Empire.
Hiding her cultural background to train as a squire, she navigates the rigorous training that all knights undergo to test their mettle, making both friends and enemies in the process.
However, everything falls apart after her friend gets badly injured during a raid and she uncovers a military conspiracy that threatens to keep the Empire in a state of perpetual war. Aiza will have to decide: turn her back on her morals and heritage, or turn her back on her dream and possibly, her only chance of freedom?
— Squire has officially been moved to a 2022 release!
Summary: An ambitious 12-year-old who moves to a seaside town with her aunts for an apprenticeship in magic and realizes that it may be more than she bargained for. In this middle grade fantasy, a young witch in a seaside town learns her family’s magic and how to work with their local water dragons.
(Source for additional summary info ComicsBeat interview from Xu about ‘Mooncakes’ from August 2019).
- Sequels & Finale: Aster & City Of Illusion / Tea Dragon #3