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Updated by Jen Blair on Dec 12, 2018
Headline for Holiday 2018 Blair Best Books - Quick Reads
Jen Blair Jen Blair
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Holiday 2018 Blair Best Books - Quick Reads

Maybe you DON’T have a lot of time to read during Winter Break. Or maybe you need books that you can read quickly and help meet your reading challenge. Here are some graphic novels and books in verse that you can finish in a day, but their stories will stay with you for much longer.

All Summer Long by Hope Larson

All Summer Long - Hope Larson

Bina and Austin always spend the whole summer together, working on their “summer fun index.” But this summer Austin is going to soccer camp. And he’s not returning Bina’s texts. What will she do without him?

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Supernova (Amulet, #8) by Kazu Kibuishi

Amulet #1-8 - Kazu Kibuishi

“After the tragic death of their father, Emily and Navin move with their mother to the home of her deceased great-grandfather, but the strange house proves to be dangerous. Before long, a sinister creature lures the kids' mom through a door in the basement. Em and Navin, desperate not to lose her, follow her into an underground world inhabited by demons, robots, and talking animals. Eventually, they enlist the help of a small mechanical rabbit named Miskit. Together with Miskit, they face the most terrifying monster of all, and Em finally has the chance to save someone she loves.”

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Crush (Awkward, #3) by Svetlana Chmakova

Awkward / Brave / Crush - Svetlana Chmakova

“Berrybrook School's Cardinal Rule #1 for surviving school: Don't get noticed by the mean kids--Cardinal Rule #2: Seek out groups with similar interests & join them. But sometimes you have to break the rules to survive middle school!”

One of my favorite graphic novels because the characters are so REAL. Jorge’s adventures in surviving middle school continue. I heart Jorge. A lot.

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol

Be Prepared - Vera Brosgol

Vera wants to go to summer camp like all the popular girls at her school. But her mom sends her to a Russian summer camp. Which is not what she expected. At all. An ode to the importance of indoor plumbing. And friendship. Summer camp was never made so real.

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Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough

Blood Water Paint - Joy McCullough

Based on the true story of artist Artemisia Gentileschi whose father takes credit for her paintings, but then is one of her only defenders in her rape trial. This story takes place in 1610, but feels as though it could happen now. One of the most beautiful and powerful books that I read all year.

The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell

The Cardboard Kingdom - Chad Sell

“A group of neighborhood children creates costumes from cardboard and use their imagination in adventures with knights, robots, and monsters.”

As great as the adventures and costumes are, I was thrilled at the depth of the characterizations as well as the problems that these kids dealt with. A story of the power of friendships and imagination.

Castle in the Stars: The Space Race of 1869 by Alex Alice

Castle in the Stars / The Moon King - Alex Alice

I really love this series. And I didn’t expect to. Adventure, magic and fantasy all rolled into one. This is the story of Seraphin, whose mother disappeared a year ago when testing the parameters of aether in her hot air balloon. Now Seraphin and his father have been invited to a Bavarian castle to find her missing logbook and continue her research. But there are evil forces hiding in this castle and Seraphin will have to fight not only for his mother’s legacy, but for his life.

Dog Man: Brawl of the Wild (Dog Man, #6) by Dav Pilkey

Dog Man #1-6 - Dav Pilkey

Dog Man is the hero that we have all been waiting for. With the head of a dog, and the body of a man, George and Harold’s latest creation is a true hero. I was having a bad day, and after laughing my way through this whole book, everything was made better. Pilkey is the solution. Always.

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The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler by John Hendrix

The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler - John Hendrix

“Adolf Hitler's Nazi party is gaining strength and becoming more menacing every day. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a pastor upset by the complacency of the German church toward the suffering around it, forms a breakaway church to speak out against the established political and religious authorities. When the Nazis outlaw the church, he escapes as a fugitive. Struggling to reconcile his faith and the teachings of the Bible with the Nazi Party's evil agenda, Bonhoeffer decides that Hitler must be stopped by any means possible.”

A nonfiction account of Germans in WWII who tried to fight back. I loved how this used a graphic novel format to explain so much that led up to the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany. You can read it in one sitting. And then read it again because it was so good.

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Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Hey Kiddo - Jarrett Krosoczka

“In kindergarten, Jarrett Krosoczka's teacher asks him to draw his family, with a mommy and a daddy. But Jarrett's family is much more complicated than that. His mom is an addict, in and out of rehab, and in and out of Jarrett's life. His father is a mystery -- Jarrett doesn't know where to find him, or even what his name is. Jarrett lives with his grandparents -- two very loud, very loving, very opinionated people who had thought they were through with raising children until Jarrett came along.”

This is a graphic novel memoir of Krosoczka’s tough childhood and how he found a way to survive with the love of his grandparents and his art. An unforgettable book. You will want to read it again and again.

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Honor Girl: A Graphic Memoir by Maggie Thrash

Honor Girl / Lost Soul Be at Peace - Maggie Thrash

“A year and a half after the summer that changed her life, Maggie Thrash wishes she could change it all back. She's trapped in a dark depression and flunking eleventh grade, befuddling her patrician mother while going unnoticed by her father, a workaholic federal judge. The only thing Maggie cares about is her cat, Tommi . . . who then disappears somewhere in the walls of her cavernous house. So her search begins -- but Maggie's not even really sure what she's lost, and she has no idea what she'll find. Lost Soul, Be at Peace is the continuation of Maggie's story from her critically acclaimed memoir Honor Girl, one that brings her devastating honesty and humor to the before and after of depression.”

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I Am Alfonso Jones by Tony Medina

I Am Alfonso Jones - Tony Medina

“The ghost of fifteen-year-old Alfonso Jones travels in a New York subway car full of the living and the dead, watching his family and friends fight for justice after he is killed by an off-duty police officer while buying a suit in a Midtown department store.”

For fans of The Hate U Give and All American Boys, this graphic novel tells the story of an unjust police killing that also includes the accounts of other victims of police violence.

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I Felt a Funeral, in My Brain by Will Walton

I Felt a Funeral in My Brain - Will Walton

“For most of his young life Avery has dealt with his alcoholic mother with the help of his grandfather Pal--he immerses himself in poetry and popular music, and now that high school is over for the summer, he makes out with his best friend Luca (who understands about alcoholic mothers), but the death of his grandfather creates a hole in his life that he can not seem to crawl out of. I Felt a Funeral, In My Brain is an astonishing novel in verse about navigating death and navigating life, at a time when the only map you have is the one you can draw for yourself.”

On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden

On a Sunbeam - Tillie Walden

"In two interwoven timelines, a ragtag crew travels to the deepest reaches of space, rebuilding beautiful, broken structures to piece the past together, and two girls meet in boarding school and fall deeply in love, only to learn the pain of loss."

Who doesn’t love a space adventure graphic novel? I will read anything Tillie Walden wants to write. Anything.

Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide by Isabel Quintero

Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide - Isabel Quintero and Zeke Pena

“Graciela Iturbide was born in Mexico City in 1942, the oldest of 13 children. When tragedy struck Iturbide as a young mother, she turned to photography for solace and understanding. From then on Iturbide embarked on a photographic journey that has taken her throughout her native Mexico, from the Sonora Desert to Juchitan to Frida Kahlo's bathroom, to the United States, India, and beyond."

A graphic novel biography of an important artist. I was fascinated.

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The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

The Poet X - Elizabeth Acevedo

Xiomara Batista never feels like anyone truly hears her. With an opportunity to join a slam poetry club, she risks her relationship with her mother, her brother, her secret boyfriend, and her faith to participate and finally be heard. An unforgettable story, by an unforgettable writer. The National Book Award winner 2018.

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Runaways, Vol. 1: Find Your Way Home by Rainbow Rowell

Runaways #1 & 2 - Rainbow Rowell

"The heart of the Runaways died years ago--but you won't believe how she returns! . . . author Rainbow Rowell teams with . . . artist Kris Anka to revive the series you can rely on to shock you and break your heart! Did Chase and Gert's love survive their time apart? Have Karolina and Nico's feelings made their friendship impossible? And should you be more worried about the emotional landmines lying in wait--or the shadowy scientist watching the ragtag group from a distance? Plus: What's in Chase's backpack? And what's up with Princess Powerful, A.K.A. the best Marvel character of all time, Molly Hayes?!"

Speak: The Graphic Novel by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak: The Graphic Novel - Laurie Halse Anderson

The graphic novel version of Anderson’s 1999 novel of the same name. Melinda was raped at a summer party. She doesn’t think anyone will believe that it happened. Especially because of who raped her. Through her art she is finally able to come to terms with what happened to her and to speak.

Spill Zone (Spill Zone, #1) by Scott Westerfeld

The Spill Zone - Scott Westerfeld

“Three years ago an event destroyed the small city of Poughkeepsie, forever changing reality within its borders. Uncanny manifestations & lethal dangers now await anyone who enters the Spill Zone. The Spill claimed Addison's parents & scarred her little sister, Lexa, who hasn't spoken since. Addison provides for her sister by photographing the Zone's twisted attractions on illicit midnight rides. Art collectors pay top dollar for these bizarre images, but getting close enough for the perfect shot can mean death--or worse. When an eccentric collector makes a million-dollar offer, Addison breaks her own hard-learned rules of survival. Hell awaits--and it seems to be calling Addison's name.”

A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel by Hope Larson

A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel - Madeleine L’Engle / Hope Larson

Meg’s father has been missing. Most think that he is dead. Meg and her younger brother, Charles Wallace, believe that they can find him. With the help of three odd, but magical women, the siblings travel through time and space to find their father and bring him home.

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What I Leave Behind by Alison McGhee

What I Leave Behind - Alison McGhee

“Since his father's suicide, Will, sixteen, has mainly walked, worked at Dollar Only, and tried to replicate his father's cornbread recipe, but the rape of his childhood friend shakes things up.”

The way that Will finds a way to help out so many people in his neighborhood - even people that didn’t know they needed help - is so beautiful. A gorgeous story of giving that everyone needs.