The Next Chapter·Reading List

David A. Robertson wants you to read these 3 graphic novels

The novelist, comics writer and columnist for The Next Chapter recommends three graphic novels you should pick up right away.
David Alexander Robertson won the Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — illustrated books in 2017 for When We Were Alone. (Provided by David Robertson)

This interview originally aired on Jan. 7, 2019.

David A. Robertson is a bestselling graphic novelist and a life-long fan of comics. Below, The Next Chapter columnist shares three graphic novels he thinks everyone should read.

Robertson's own work includes the 7 Generations series, the award-winning picture book When We Were Alone and the YA novels StrangersMonsters and Ghosts.

Maus by Art Spiegelman

Art Spiegelman won a Pulitzer Prize for Maus. (Bertrand Langlois/AFP/Getty Images/Pantheon)

"It's one of the best graphic novels ever written and ever made. It came around at a time when there was a bit of a resistance toward comics and graphic novels. In the 1950s, they were looked at as this amazing educational resource, but in the 1960s and 1970s there was a huge push back against them. And then Maus came along. It depicts Jews as mice and Nazis as cats, and that construct is very powerful. I think it's a way to make the story more palatable for younger readers. But it is also an extremely powerful book that addresses some horrific topics in a way that is age appropriate.

"It showed what graphic novels could really do and what they could be. It's this amazing story about the Holocaust that is told through the perspective of a father and a son. What I love about story is the transfer of story through intergenerational connections and what we can learn from you asking our elders about their lives. Art Spiegelman had a conversation with his dad over the course of a long period of time learning about his experience in the Holocaust and he transferred that into a graphic novel format. And it's just such a powerful tool."

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki & Jillian Tamaki

Jillian and Mariko Tamaki won the 2014 Governor General's Literary Award for children's literature — illustrated books. (First Second)

"This book is such an amazing callback to my own youth. Part of the engagement of this book is how it elicits these emotions and images from readers because they think about their own time when they used to go to the cabin or the lake over the summer and the connections that they made there. It's a really subtle and beautiful coming of age story where this girl goes to this lake and connects with friends and has her first crush. It made me think so much about when I was growing up. It has this beautiful, stark but soft illustration technique by Jillian. It takes time to let this story unravel. It's very patient. I love when writers and illustrators who are both storytellers in the graphic novel medium have the patience to just let a story happen. It has these amazing little beats that are beautiful that sometimes are just like two page spreads just like water and bubbles and just it made me feel nostalgic but it also made me feel like this is how I love to read a story — having faith in the reader to stay with you."

Moonshot: Vol. 2 edited by Hope Nicholson

Hope Nicholson is the editor of the anthology Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection Volume 2. ( Comics)

"This is actually the second volume in a series. It's this anthology graphic novel where it has a number of different stories by Indigenous creators that address a theme, but each one stands on its own. In this graphic novel anthology you have comics by creators like Darcie Little Badger, Richard Van Camp, Tanya Tagaq, Daniel Heath Justice, Steve Sanderson. I have a little story and there's a wide sampling of different First Nations and Indigenous cultures across Canada as well, which I also love. The theme of this anthology is looking at traditional story and how those stories can incorporate contemporary issues. It talks about how our traditions are still vital today and how they can be used to help us heal and to grow and to learn."

David A. Robertson's comments have been edited for length and clarity.