Here’s a set of happy, fun comics and comic/picture book blends appropriate for even the youngest kiddos. They’re all books I enjoy even as an adult, with high quality art and engaging stories. Older kids will find plenty to adore here too. (Good Superheroes for Kids and Teens is where all the supes live, organized by age level.)
The way my life is organized these days, it’s tough for me to write reviews. Some of the books below have them, some do not, but I love them all.
Before we jump in:
- All comics here can be bought as graphic novels/collections, not only as single issues. Your library may own many of these!
- Amazon links are affiliate links.
- Any questions, corrections, recommendations? Let me know via my contact form.
The Adventures of Polo by Régis Faller.
A wordless comic about a little dog who leaves his house (in a tree in the middle of the ocean) and a grand adventure. The way off his island is by tightrope, which then turns into a staircase, and then a slide, which drops him onto a cloud, which he rides to his friend’s house which is also on a cloud… if you’re getting a Harold and the Purple Crayon vibe here, you’re not wrong. It’s the same kind of magical wonderland kind of story and I just loved it. Polo visits all kinds of islands and then eventually ends up on the moon before arriving back home where all his new friends can now come to visit. Very fun!
Benjamin Bear in Bright Ideas by Philippe Coudray.
Each page is one cartoon, with a visual gag playing off the short dialogue – more like reading cartoons in the newspaper than a graphic novel. Go slow with younger children, because they’ll need time to process the visuals and combine them with the wordplay. Once they start to catch on, it’s a lot of fun.
Unfortunately, the next volume we read, Benjamin Bear in Fuzzy Thinking, contains some pages where one character hurts another on purpose to make the joke work. A big departure from this one, which we adored, and my kid still re-reads at age 10.
The Catstronauts Series by Drew Brockington.
Cats in space! Cat puns and cats doing adorable cat things, and they’re also super-smart astronauts who are brave and loyal friends! I’m honestly not sure what else to say, but I will testify that both the ten year old boy who loves cats and his 40-something mom who is neutral on actual cats found this series both charming and amusing. Your library probably has this series, so give it a spin.
Comic Adventures of Boots by Satoshi Kitamura.
We LOVE Satoshi Kitamura. This book of comic stories about Boots the cat is at times surreal, and very often funny. Please watch 20-30 cats try to make a pyramid to get treats off the roof of a building and tell me you aren’t chuckling a little, at least in your mind! Satoshi Kitamura’s art is extremely expressive. I had no idea that cartoon cat faces could convey so many different emotions. A real winner with my cat-loving son.
Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye, written by Colleen AF Venable and illustrated by Stephanie Yue. We checked this out from the library thinking it was just for my son, but the adults in the house cracked up as much, if not more, than the intended seven year old audience.
The main character is a bookworm guinea pig named Sasspants. Her best friend is a mouse named Hamisher who thought he was a koala but later wants to be a dragon. They live in a pet shop where the owner can’t remember what to label the cages… and there’s always a mystery afoot. The fish are all named Steve. The chinchillas have a pet mouse they carry around like a tiny dog, and they dress him up. Trust me on this one. You won’t be sorry. Six slim volumes, every one is comedy gold.
Diversity notes: (1) Yue is Asian-American. (2) I read the pet shop owner as being neurodivergent in some way, and that is never ever a bad thing to the animals or his friends. They love and admire him exactly as he is.
The Flying Beaver Brothers by Maxwell Eaton III.
First, a safety tip: do not read these out of order! The plot of each one is not dependent on any previous books, but they mention past events, and my son still hasn’t forgiven me 100% for the spoilers he picked up as a result. (I’M SO SORRY!) So, start with The Flying Beaver Brothers and the Evil Penguin Plan, linked above. My kid’s summary: “It’s kind of a mix of a heroic tale and a really funny tale. They save an island while making lots of really funny jokes.” Eaton has a gift for creating distinctive characters, needing only a couple of panels to establish each player in the story. He never lets the silliness run away with the tale, but there are sequences so funny that I showed them to my husband out of context and he cracked up.
The Hello Kitty: Here We Go! series, with stories and art by Jacob Chabot, Jorge Monlongo, and Susie Ghahremani.
I almost goofed up and let us miss out on this delightful series. You see, I would never have ordered the first book if my son didn’t love Hello Kitty with a passion, or if I’d realized it would be wordless. Wordless comics are hard. You can’t just read what’s on the page in a stupor at 8pm! But how was it supposed to have words when Hello Kitty has no mouth? When it arrived, I immediately handed it to the kid with a gentle message of “look at it with Grandma.”
Then kiddo suckered me into looking at it with him one morning before school. You know what? It’s really cute and funny! I was surprised by how much expression they manage with this little stylized cat. Also, there were kitty ninjas. I had a good time, and we ended up buying the whole rest of the six-book series and loving it, especially the bit where Hello Kitty and her friends play D&D.
Hello Kitty: Hello 40, an anthology of comics by various creators, edited by Traci N. Todd and Elizabeth Kawasaki.
If the kiddo in your life liked the above, check this out. 41 short stories, in various art styles, ranging from comedy to science fiction. It’s a neat project for seeing how different people can interpret the same character in a variety of ways while keeping the distinctive essence.
Hocus Pocus is a rabbit who lives in a magician’s hat. The magician has a dog, who’s on the grumpy side and none too fond of antics. Hocus Pocus is all about antics. You see where this is going, right? This nearly-wordless comic has some of the most expressive cartoon art I have ever seen. There are simple words for sound effects, but pre-readers wouldn’t misunderstand any of the action if they glossed right over them. And our kiddo, who was reading chapter books already by the time we checked these out, still loved them because they’re so clever and fun.
The Hole by Øyvind Torseter, translated from the Norwegian by Kari Dickson.
That white dot in the center of the book cover? That’s an actual hole. It goes all the way through the book. The main character moves into a new apartment only to discover this hole. As he’s trying to figure out what it is, the hole moves! He makes a phone call for help, which results in a request to catch the hole and bring it across town. This book has very little dialogue, but tons of visual interest, and the hole is used shockingly well on every page. So glad this showed up at our local library!
I Am Pusheen the Cat by Claire Belton.
An adorable little ball of fluff and cuteness. I’m flipping back through it as I write this and I can’t help but smile. Great pick for even very young kids or cat people of any age who enjoy a lighthearted cartoon book now and then. For extra enjoyment, procure a child who’s already read it and have them sit next to you while you read it and periodically laugh, so the child can lean over excitedly to see what you just read and laugh with you.
Little Mouse Gets Ready by Jeff Smith.
I could not figure out the point of this book… until we got to the joke at the end. Then I laughed, and my son at four years old thought it was hilarious. For those familiar with Bone, this is the same Jeff Smith, doing something light and fun. I think this would make a perfect first preschooler graphic novel.
Long Tail Kitty by Lark Pien.
I was familiar with Lark Pien’s awesomeness through some of her previous work in comics, as well as the picture book Mr. Elephanter, so we checked out Long Tail Kitty from the library. The first chapter serves as a bit of introduction and prologue, then we get all kinds of wacky fun as Long Tail Kitty:(1) gets a bee sting and meets some cranky flowers who like cookies, (2) learns to ice skate, (3) makes dinner with friends, and (4) plays with visiting aliens. It’s great! Lots of laughter with this one.
Lucha Lizards: Chameleon Cage Match by Donald Lemke, illustrated by Chris Eliopoulos.
I had NO idea what to expect from this, since I’m not a fan of lizards or wrestling. LOVED IT. Leon the Chameleon loves wrestling just like every other lizard in Luchaville, but he’s never had a chance to prove himself. Until King Komodo attacks, vanquishing the other lizards one by one! The jokes are all clever and there’s plenty of real info about lizards. Eliopoulos is one of our favorite comics illustrators and he really knocks it out of the park here.
Luke on the Loose by Harry Bliss.
A sweet, funny little story about a young child’s big adventure chasing pigeons through the city. We read this when my son was five, and I thought he might find the story too simple, but he paid a lot more attention to the pictures than I initially did and ended up laughing at all of Luke’s antics. I think I was also distracted by empathizing with Luke’s frantic parents! I especially loved finding this because children’s books are sadly lacking in diversity of characters, and little kids’ comics even moreso!
Magic Trixie by Jill Thompson.
We heart the Magic Trixie series! We read them with my son really young, maybe starting when he was three? This is another set I’d buy even if I did not live with a child.
Magic Trixie’s world is full of spells, adventure, and not-too-spooky monster stuff. Plus, grownups who love Trixie even when she’s made a bad decision. The first and third books deal with “I have a baby sister” drama, so I don’t always bust them out on families with multiple kids if I don’t know their kids’ rivalry/jealousy dynamics. The second one, Magic Trixie Sleeps Over, is great for Halloween. Which we observe all year at our house. Jill Thompson is the best.
Scary Godmother and the Boo Flu, also by Jill Thompson.
If you like Magic Trixie, here’s something else to check out. There are quite a few different Scary Godmother books by Jill Thompson, as well as some produced when the character was under license to a large company. Stick with Jill’s. The one we started with was a big black and white compendium that took forever to get through, though my son was fine with that and stayed interested. The Boo Flu is more accessible for younger kids, and in color, focused on Scary Godmother’s friend Hannah. S.G. gets sick and little girl Hannah tries to take over her Halloween duties, only to realize that it’s a LOT of work! Perfect for kids who love that Halloween spirit.
Max & Milo Go To Sleep! by Heather and Ethan Long.
Poor Max! It’s not easy sharing a room with your energetic always-busy brother, especially at bedtime. The Longs have done a great job pairing Ethan’s cartoon art with a story “inspired by real family events” that my son cracks up over every time.
Maya Makes a Mess by Rutu Modan.
Most kids LOVE a good story about a kid proving adults wrong, and this is a cute one. Maya’s parents implore her to use good table manners. After all, what if she got invited to dinner with the queen?! Well, that actually happens… and the results left my son cracking up and looking for all the funny details in the pictures of that night’s historic dinner.
Mega Princess By Kelly Thompson, illustrated by Brianne Drouhard, colored by M. Victoria Robado, letters by Warren Montgomery.
Fun graphic novel about a biracial princess named Max whose fairy godmother gives her the powers of princesses everywhere. All the powers. Which is kind of disappointing, since what Max really wants is to be a detective, not some kind of super-princess. When Max’s baby brother disappears, though, it’s the combination of detective skills and princess powers that helps on her quest to find and save him. The fairy tale and other princess references are satisfying for those in the know, and you’ve got girl power and a talking pony – what more could you need?
Mr. Pants: It’s Go Time by Scott McCormick, illustrated by R.H. Lazzell.
What if cats went to school, ate at the table with silverware, did chores, played card games, and got tucked in at night? That’s the life of siblings Mr. Pants, Foot Foot, and Grommy LuluBelle, who live with their human mom. It’s Go Time starts on the last day of summer, when Mr. Pants desperately wants to play laser tag… which he’ll get to do as long as the dreaded SHOPPING doesn’t take too long, especially the trip his sisters are making to the Fairy Princess Dream Factory. NOOOOOOO! Neither my son nor I could stop laughing for pretty much the whole book. Even when there’s nothing specific happening, the sibling conflicts and negotiations are pitch perfect and hilarious without being mean.
Mr. Pants: Trick or Feet by Scott McCormick, illustrated by R.H. Lazzell.
Normally I don’t fully review two separate books in one series, but I have to, because this particular volume is one of my top ten favorite kids’ graphic novels. Mr. Pants, Grommy, and Foot Foot have BIG plans for Halloween. The annual Zombie Tag game is going to be great! Trick or Treating is going to be great! All they need are costumes, which Mommy is NOT allowed to make this year. Not after last year’s debacle. (“I don’t even know what I’m supposed to be!”) But the costume shop is cleaned out by the time they get there. And Mommy’s bought them all airplane tickets to visit grandparents. WHAT?! Add a freak snowstorm and things aren’t going to end well. Or are they?
McCormick tells this story with so much confidence, setting up jokes early in the book that pay off chapters later. Chapter Five is one of the best things I’ve ever read in comics, and chapter Seven is a sweet fulfillment of little Grommy’s heartfelt desire.
Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea by Ben Clayton.
Simple, friendly, fun tale about a friendship between two underwater denizens: Narwhal and Jellyfish. Perfect silly book for the littlest comics readers, with three short stories and plenty of waffles. I wish this had been published a few years earlier because I think my nine year old was just a smidge too old to fall in love with it like I did, but I’m so glad it exists because it’s so tough to find happy, fun comics that are a good fit for even very young kids.
The second book, Super Narwhal and Jelly Jolt, is also adorable!
“It’s a beautiful day in the garden when Poppy and her panda friend, Sam, hear a commotion. Their friend Basil–who has always been known for his elegance–is in tears, because somebody nibbled his leaves last night!
Poppy puts her detective skills to work, with help from Sam, and together they set out to find the culprit. They start by interviewing the insects, but Ms. Honeybee, Madame Ladybug, and Mr. Bumblebee all have contradictory suspicions of their own. So Poppy and Sam test some creative methods to catch the vandal red-handed. After a few misadventures, they find the remorseful nibbler–and Basil helps him understand that everything tastes better when it is freely offered.”
The Singing Rock & Other Brand-New Fairy Tales by Nathaniel Lachenmeyer, illustrated by Simini Blocker
“A genie just wants a chance to grant a wish to the frog who accidentally let him out of his lamp—meanwhile, the frog just wants to be left alone. A witch is tormented by the cheerful (and awful) singing of a persistent bard, but when she finally snaps and turns him into a rock, he just keeps on singing—somehow the power of terrible music overcomes all magic. A wizard wants a pet. An ogre just wants to make beautiful art. Four original, wry, and utterly charming fairy tales comprise this new collection for young readers.”
Sticky Burr: Adventures in Burrwood Forest, by John Lechner.
I never thought I would read a story about anthropomorphized burrs. That’s why John Lechner has published books and I have not, he has way more imagination! Sticky Burr usually spends his time playing the ukulele and painting, but when trouble arises, he’s the one the other burrs look to for good ideas. This book combines graphic novel storytelling with pages describing life in the village, the forest, etc. Rich fictional world, cute talking burrs, what’s not to love? (One caution: there’s a mean-spirited burr who does spend a lot of time spewing negativity, but I still think this is fine for even little kids. It’s so funny how the jerk burr always loses and gets so frustrated.)
The sequel, Sticky Burr: The Prickly Peril, is also quite lovely.
Stinky by Eleanor Davis.
I did not want to bring this book home because of the title. Why would I want to read about stinky things?! My husband and son overruled me. I’m glad they did. It’s a nice little story about learning to overcome your fear of people who are different, and it doesn’t hit the readers repeatedly on the head with the lesson stick. If you don’t like toads, though, I’d give it a pass.
Tao, the Little Samurai by Laurent Richard, illustrated by Nicholas Ryser, translated from French to English by Edward Gauvin.
Halfway through reading this, I said to my husband “Your son is going to eat this up with a spoon.” I was right. At seven, our kid was a HUGE fan of martial arts, video games, origami, cute characters, and cartoon strips with a good punchline. (He’s 11 now and nothing has changed!) This series might well have been optimized specifically for him. On his first day with this first book, he read it at least once to himself, once out loud to his Grandma – and when I checked on him in the morning, he was reading it again. It’s cute, funny, and it’s about martial arts without being a book full of fights. Unlike many kids’ books set in a school, there is no bullying and very little teasing, if any. The adults are respected (even if not always obeyed.) And there’s no gross-out humor. Finally, I love that the cast is predominantly people of color, since diversity in younger children’s comics is sadly lacking – though no one should take this an an authentic Asian setting, so it’s worth discussing that with the little reader in your life.
My son’s review, when I asked him why he liked it: “IT’S FUNNY!” And then he did a dramatic re-telling of one whole page so I could truly understand how hilarious the jokes are.
The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill.
This book is like a warm hug from someone you really like and trust. The relationships and magic are more important than the light plot, but it’s a story about Greta, an apprentice blacksmith, who meets a couple, Hesekiel and Erik, who own a tea shop and care for the small dragons who grow the tea leaves. Greta also becomes friends with Minette, their ward. There’s queer rep, disability rep, characters with various skin tones, and of course the adorable and sweet tea dragons. My 10 year old son who likes a strong plot felt like “very little happened,” but my niece who is a couple years older adored it. So did her mother and I. I just felt so calm and pleased with the world after reading it. I’ve already pre-ordered two copies of O’Neill’s next book.
“Tiger is a very lucky kid: she has a monster living under her bed. Every night, Tiger and Monster play games until it’s time for lights out. Of course, Monster would never try to scare Tiger—that’s not what best friends do.
But Monster needs to scare someone…it’s a monster, after all. So while Tiger sleeps, Monster scares all of her nightmares away. Thanks to her friend, Tiger has nothing but good dreams. But waiting in the darkness is a nightmare so big and mean that Monster can’t fight it alone. Only teamwork and a lot of bravery can chase this nightmare away.”
Tippy and the Night Parade by Lilli Carré.
I love this little book! The art style is so unique. It feels vintage without feeling dated. And I love how Tippy explains how she could have ended up with a bedroom full of animals and a bird on her head… even though all she remembers is falling asleep! My son grabbed this out of the library shelf and read it before I woke up one morning, then brought it to me in the dark whispering “Mom, you HAVE to read this!” He was not wrong.
Written and Drawn by Henrietta, by Liniers.
A little girl breaks out a new box of colored pencils to draw her own comic, which we read along with her cat, who provides commentary. It’s about creating art, with a very light touch, and young artists and writers should find it inspiring! Or just a lot of fun. If Henrietta weren’t fictional, I’d give her a book deal right away. It’s hardest to find good comics for the very youngest children, so I’m always excited to find a winner.
Zoe and Robot: Let’s Pretend by Ryan Sias.
This is fun to read aloud, especially if you’re willing to do a robot voice. Zoe’s friend Robot just can’t seem to get the hang of her pretend mountain-climbing expedition! What can she do? Just keep trying, Zoe, it’s all going to work out. After digging through the Austin Public Library catalog for awesome picture books about robots and coming up with very little that interested me, and NO female characters in sight, I really appreciated this one. My son was six right when we read this, but we could have read it when he was much younger. He read it to himself repeatedly and still asked for someone to read it to him.
And that’s the list of good comics for young kids!