14 Not-Too-Scary Graphic Novels for Tweens | Great Books

These charming graphic novels for middle grade readers feature everything you’d expect from spooky season—haunted hayrides, magic, monster-hunting, and more—yet the stories are cozy, like a mug of hot cider. No matter the time of year, curl up with these titles and enjoy the gentle autumnal vibes.


Autumn is the perfect time to indulge in all things creepy and spine-tingling. Yet the season of ghosts and ghouls still has tons to offer those who prefer their fall reading to be on the sweeter side. These charming graphic novels for middle grade readers feature everything you’d expect from spooky season—haunted hayrides, magic, monster-hunting, and more—yet the stories are cozy, like a mug of hot cider. No matter the time of year, curl up with these titles and enjoy the gentle autumnal vibes.

Ayoub, Jenna. Forever Home. illus. by author. KaBOOM! 2021. ISBN 9781684156030.
Gr 4-7–Willow has spent her whole life moving from place to place with her military parents. Now settled in their forever home, the historical Hadleigh House, Willow is thrilled to be putting down roots. However, the ghostly inhabitants of the house are determined to scare her family away, pitting poltergeists against the tenacious tween. Willow’s fearless attitude keeps this ghost story feeling light and, ultimately, warm and fuzzy.

Davault, Kay. Misfit Mansion. illus. by author. S. & S./Atheneum. 2023. ISBN 9781665903080.
Gr 5-9–Charming depictions of a foster home filled with cuddly monsters provide the perfect blend of spooky and sweet. Iris, a monster, is determined to find a forever family, when the spell separating her monster foster house from the real world is broken by a human boy. As the young monsters descend upon the town, dangers, secrets, and revelations hide behind every turn.

Goetter, Sara & Natalie Riess. The Bawk-ness Monster. illus. by authors. (Cryptid Kids: Bk. 1). First Second. 2023. ISBN 9781250834676.
Gr 3-7–Delightful cryptids and sweet friendships keep this high energy, campy adventure nice and cozy. Three best friends are looking for the Bawk-ness monster, aka Bessie—half-chicken-half–sea serpent—when they encounter a villainous cryptid hunter and her stash of adorable creatures. Determined to free Bessie and the others from captivity, the friends must rely on one another and their unique skills to succeed.


Hallbeck, Chris. Pebble and Wren. illus. by author. HarperCollins/Clarion. 2023. ISBN 9780358541295.
Gr 4-8–Told through a series of slice-of-life vignettes and originally released as a webcomic, this story follows Pebble, a number-loving, always-hungry monster, and Wren, a fact-spouting, comics-readinghuman, as they become the best of friends. At turns silly, cutesy, and funny, the saturated, colorful panels will draw readers into this non-scary monster tale.

Knisley, Lucy. Apple Crush. illus. by author. (Peapod Farm). Random House Graphic. 2022. ISBN 9780593125380.
Gr 3-7–In the follow-up to Stepping Stones, the seasons are changing for Jen as she navigates growing up, first crushes, divorced parents, and working weekends at a haunted hayride. Detailed scenes will transport readers to the autumnal farmland with all the traditional elements of a rustic, rural fall—cider donuts, colored leaves, warm sweaters, and Halloween costumes galore.

Layne, Aliza. Beetle & the Hollowbones. illus. by author. S. & S./Atheneum. 2020. ISBN 9781534441538.
Gr 5-9–Beetle, a 12-year-old goblin witch, would rather hang out at the mall with best friend, the delightful Blob Ghost, than study. When her life turns upside down with the reappearance of her old best friend Kat and an evil scheme threatens Blob Ghost, Beetle gets to decide what type of witch she is going to be. Spreads jam-packed with colorful, emotive panels; lots of adventure; and a sweet, queer love story make this a charming read.

Liu, Marjorie. Wingbearerillus. by Teny Issakhanian. HarperCollins/Quill Tree. 2022. ISBN 9780062741165.
Gr 5-8–Zuli leaves her mystical home of the Great Tree in order to save her beloved safe haven. Yet the adventure that awaits her and her guardian owl beyond her home realm leads her to new friends and answers about her identity. With a dynamic art style reminiscent of an animated adventure, this series opener will be enjoyed by fans of Kazu Kibuishi’s “Amulet” and other fantasy graphics.


Loux, Matthew. Prunella and the Cursed Skull Ring. illus. by author. First Second. 2022. ISBN 9781250162618.
Gr 2-5–Living in a monster-fearing village is just an annoyance to Prunella until she uncovers a cursed ring and transforms into a skeleton girl. Kicked out of her home, Prunella finds her way with the help of friendly monsters in the lands beyond her village, and is whisked away on an eye-opening adventure. Quirky illustrations and friendly monsters temper the dangers of the quest.

O’Neill, K. The Moth Keeper. illus. by author. Random House Graphic. 2023. ISBN 9780593182277.
Gr 4-8–Anya becomes her nocturnal village’s new Moth Keeper, caretaker of the moths essential to their survival. She doesn’t anticipate that the long nights will spark feelings of self-doubt. When the moths go missing, Anya seizes the opportunity to step up for her village and herself. O’Neill’s signature art style, replete with intricate pastoral scenes of this magical, multispecies village, shines as bright as the revered moon.

Ostertag, Molly Knox. Dungeon Club: Roll Call. illus. by Xanthe Bouma. (Dungeons & Dragons: Bk. 1). HarperAlley. 2022. ISBN 9780063039247.
Gr 4-8–D&D provides both an imagined magical backdrop as well as an opportunity for navigating middle school friendships in a new series from Ostertag. The coziness of role-playing games, best friends, and a fun fantasy world pair well with the appealing art style, depicting both the game play and the real world.


Paulsen, Bree. Garlic and the Witch. illus. by author. HarperCollins/Quill Tree. 2022. ISBN 9780062995124.
Gr 3-6–In this follow-up to Garlic and the Vampire , a muted, autumnal color palette pairs perfectly with the sweet story of bravery in the face of big changes. When Garlic wakes up with an extra finger, she finds out that she is transforming from Veggie person into a human—an anxiety-inducing experience only soothed through a new journey and deep friendships.

Ramm, Meggie. Batcat: The Ghostly Guest. illus. by author. (Batcat: Bk. 1). Abrams/Amulet. 2023. ISBN 9781419756573.
Gr 2-5–Batcat, an aptly named bat-cat hybrid, seeks a witch’s help with ridding their home of a pesky ghost. In order to gather the banishing spell ingredients, Batcat embarks on a series of quests, traveling all across Spooky Island and encountering creatures that make them question their otherness as a hybrid. Cheeky yet sweet, this story of self-acceptance pairs hilarious high jinks with poppy, engaging art.

Xu, Wendy. Tidesong. illus. by author. HarperCollins/Quill Tree. 2021. ISBN 9780062955807.
Gr 4-8–When young witch Sophie goes to study magic with her cousin and great-aunt, a secret late-night spell leads to her almost drowning in the sea. Saved by a water dragon, Sophie realizes that he is stranded without memories or shapeshifting abilities, and that their magics are now inextricably tangled. With a dreamy color palette, ferocious weather, and the trappings of cozy season, this witchy story is the perfect dark-and-stormy-night read.

Yee, Reimena. My Aunt Is a Monsterillus. by author. Random House Graphic. 2022. ISBN 9780593125465.
Gr 4-8–When Safia, who is blind, moves in with an aunt she’s never met, she doesn’t expect to find out that her ex-adventurer aunt Lady Whimsy has been cursed to live as a blue, horned monster. Thus begins the grandest adventure of all as Safia embarks on a mission to derail her aunt’s archnemesis. Vibrant illustrations and lots of full-page spreads make this a whimsical, immersive romp.

Alyssa Taft is the teen librarian at Cranston Public Library in Cranston, RI.

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