Zita the Spacegirl, Ben Hatke

Zita the Spacegirl

Zita is a pretty typical 10-year-old who spends her time doing average 10-year-old things. Unlike her more reticent best friend, Joseph, Zita revels in leaping before looking. So when the duo stumbles upon a smoking crater with a strange-looking device, Zita’s impulses get the better of her and she pushes the big, red button in the center. Before she can say “oops,” a portal materializes out of thin air, pulling Joseph into its embrace before winking out of existence once more.

Her immediate response is one even grownups are familiar with: to run, panicked, in the other direction. But then a different sort of emotion kicks in. Recovering the device, Zita reactivates the portal, plunging headfirst into the breach. When she finally comes to on the other side, it’s on a brave new planet, one that shares more in common with Tatooine than Oz or Narnia.

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Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things, Ted Naifeh

Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things

Like the shadows that flicker in the corner of your eye, Courtney Crumrin and the Night Things doesn’t fill you with outright terror—at least, not at first. Far more frightening is its creeping sense of dread, the nagging feeling that something is unutterably, irretrievably wrong.

Courtney’s tale, like most cracking ghost stories, begins with a spooky old mansion. “Do you know that one house, the most talked-about house in the whole neighborhood?” asks the omniscient narrator. “It is well known that terrible things happen there. And that Old Man Crumrin is madder than a Victorian hatmaker.”

It’s also the house that Courtney and her tedious, social-climbing parents would soon call home.

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Supergirl Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade

Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade

Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade is less about a 12-year-old adjusting to life as a superhero than it is about a superhero figuring out how to be 12 years old. Gawky, insecure, and a complete fish out of water, Landry Q. Walker and Eric Jones’s Kara Zor-el is the antithesis of her broodier, more volatile “New 52” counterpart.

Granted, it helps that this iteration of the Last Daughter of Krypton didn’t witness the destruction of her home planet in a cataclysmic explosion. In this alternate canon, Argo City survives after the force of the blast shunts it into a pocket reality known as Quasi-Space, where. Kara, like most preteens, engages her parents in a constant battle of wills. That is, until an impulsive decision sends her careening to Earth on an interdimensional rocket, with no hope of return in sight.

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I Am Wonder Woman, I Can Read, Erin K. Stein , Rick Farley

I Can Read: I Am Wonder Woman

Still think that Wonder Woman’s Greek myth origins are “too complicated” for the silver screen, movie execs? I Can Read: I Am Wonder Woman gets down to the brass tacks, explaining Diana’s story so cogently even a five-year-old could follow. (Mine certainly did.)

The early reader covers the basics: Paradise Island, princess, Amazons, Gods-given powers. But it also throws in the magic truth-inducing magic lasso, Wonder Woman’s invisible jet, her civilian identity, and even her friendship with Superman and Batman—all in fewer than 32 pages, most comprising pithy sentences.

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