First Second Comics is extremely excited to have these comics presented for this holiday season!
BY SHANNON HALE
ILLUSTRATED BY LEUYEN PHAM
The creators of Real Friends Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham are back with a true story about popularity, first crushes, and finding your own path in the graphic novel, Best Friends.
Follow your heart. Find your people.
Sixth grade is supposed to be perfect. Shannon’s got a sure spot in the in-crowd called The Group, and her best friend is their leader, Jen, the most popular girl in school.
But the rules are always changing, and Shannon has to scramble to keep up. She never knows which TV shows are cool, what songs to listen to, and who she’s allowed to talk to. Who makes these rules, anyway? And does Shannon have to follow them?
THIS WAS OUR PACT
BY RYAN ANDREWS
Ryan Andrews’s This Was Our Pact is an astonishing, magical-realist adventure story for middle-grade readers.
It’s the night of the annual Autumn Equinox Festival, when the town gathers to float paper lanterns down the river. Legend has it that after drifting out of sight, they’ll soar off to the Milky Way and turn into brilliant stars, but could that actually be true? This year, Ben and his classmates are determined to find out where those lanterns really go, and to ensure success in their mission, they’ve made a pact with two simple rules: No one turns for home. No one looks back.
The plan is to follow the river on their bikes for as long as it takes to learn the truth, but it isn’t long before the pact is broken by all except for Ben and (much to Ben’s disappointment) Nathaniel, the one kid who just doesn’t seem to fit in.
Together, Nathaniel and Ben will travel farther than anyone has ever gone, down a winding road full of magic, wonder, and unexpected friendship*.
*And a talking bear.
BY JEN WANG
Moon is everything Christine isn’t. She’s confident, impulsive, artistic . . . and though they both grew up in the same Chinese-American suburb, Moon is somehow unlike anyone Christine has ever known.
But after Moon moves in next door, these unlikely friends are soon best friends, sharing their favorite music videos and painting their toenails when Christine’s strict parents aren’t around. Moon even tells Christine her deepest secret: that she has visions, sometimes, of celestial beings who speak to her from the stars. Who reassure her that earth isn’t where she really belongs.
Moon’s visions have an all-too-earthly root, however, and soon Christine’s best friend is in the hospital, fighting for her life. Can Christine be the friend Moon needs, now, when the sky is falling?
In Stargazing, Jen Wang draws on her childhood to paint a deeply personal yet wholly relatable friendship story that’s at turns joyful, heart-wrenching, and full of hope.
BY KEVIN PANETTA
ILLUSTRATED BY SAVANNA GANUCHEAU
Now that high school is over, Ari is dying to move to the big city with his ultra-hip band—if he can just persuade his dad to let him quit his job at their struggling family bakery. Though he loved working there as a kid, Ari cannot fathom a life wasting away over rising dough and hot ovens. But while interviewing candidates for his replacement, Ari meets Hector, an easygoing guy who loves baking as much as Ari wants to escape it. As they become closer over batches of bread, love is ready to bloom . . . that is, if Ari doesn’t ruin everything.
In Bloom, writer Kevin Panetta and artist Savanna Ganucheau concoct a delicious recipe of intricately illustrated baking scenes and blushing young love, in which the choices we make can have terrible consequences, but the people who love us can help us grow.
LAURA DEAN KEEPS BREAKING UP WITH ME
BY MARIKO TAMAKI
ILLUSTRATED BY ROSEMARY VALERO-O’CONNELL
Author Mariko Tamaki and illustrator Rosemary Valero-O’Connell bring to life a sweet and spirited tale of young love in Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me, a graphic novel that asks us to consider what happens when we ditch the toxic relationships we crave to embrace the healthy ones we need.
Laura Dean, the most popular girl in high school, was Frederica Riley’s dream girl: charming, confident, and SO cute. There’s just one problem: Laura Dean is maybe not the greatest girlfriend.
Reeling from her latest break up, Freddy’s best friend, Doodle, introduces her to the Seek-Her, a mysterious medium, who leaves Freddy some cryptic parting words: break up with her. But Laura Dean keeps coming back, and as their relationship spirals further out of her control, Freddy has to wonder if it’s really Laura Dean that’s the problem. Maybe it’s Freddy, who is rapidly losing her friends, including Doodle, who needs her now more than ever.
Fortunately for Freddy, there are new friends, and the insight of advice columnists like Anna Vice to help her through being a teenager in love.
KISS NUMBER 8
BY COLLEEN AF VENABLE
ILLUSTRATED BY ELLEN T. CRENSHAW
Mads is pretty happy with her life. She goes to church with her family, and minor league baseball games with her dad. She goofs off with her best friend Cat, and has thus far managed to avoid getting kissed by Adam, the boy next door. It’s everything she hoped high school would be… until all of a sudden, it’s not.
Her dad is hiding something big—so big it could tear her family apart. And that’s just the beginning of her problems: Mads is starting to figure out that she doesn’t want to kiss Adam… because the only person she wants to kiss is Cat.
Kiss Number 8, a graphic novel from writer Colleen AF Venable and illustrator Ellen T. Crenshaw, is a layered, funny, sharp-edged story of teen sexuality and family secrets.
BY BRIAN MCDONALD
ILLUSTRATED BY LES MCCLAINE
From Brian McDonald and Les McClaine comes Old Souls, a supernatural graphic novel about addiction, obsession, and the things we do for family.
Chris Olsen has a good life. He has a regular job, a wife and daughter who love him, and a promising future. By any measure this is a good life, but it isn’t his first.
When a troubling encounter with a homeless man triggers something inside Chris, memories of his past lives bubble to the surface. A lost Chinese boy, a wailing grandmother, and a love so powerful it never left his soul—all compete for his attention.
Chris sinks deep into the seedy and seductive world of “grave robbers,” vagrants known for their ability to relive their former lives. But can he find closure to a tragic episode in his past without losing himself in the process?