This year brought many of the same challenges as 2020, but one of the bright spots for me was serving on School Library Journal‘s Best Books committee to select the best graphic novels for youth published in 2021. It was a totally different experience from Caldecott and I found the end goal of a list so freeing in comparison to selecting a single medalist. It was also freeing to not be beholden to the same sort of eligibility rules (unfortunately, Caldecott can only go to U.S. illustrators). Coincidentally, most of my favorite graphic novels of the year were by non-U.S. creators.
Side note: While we’re talking Caldecott and graphic novels in the same train of thought, I’m also linking to a post my Simmons University colleague Niki Marion and I wrote for The Horn Book‘s Calling Caldecott: “CaldeComics 2022.” I started doing CaldeComics posts in 2018 and Niki took over for 2020. Doing this year’s post as a collaboration was even better than before & I hope the tradition continues!
Anyway, I’m really proud of what our SLJ committee chose and grateful for to have talked comics with such brilliant colleagues across the board. You can view our list and annotations over at SLJ‘s website: “Best Graphic Novels 2021 | SLJ Best Books.” While you’re there, check out SLJ‘s other Best Books lists for some other must-read titles from the year.