We love comics and graphic novels for young readers here at The Beat. For me personally, they offer kids and young adults accessible, exciting narratives to boost not only reading skills but also creativity and imagination. For the Small Press Spotlight this week, we turn our attention to Little Monarchs, a new graphic novel adventure geared toward kids “that invites readers to take an intimate look at the natural world and the secrets hidden within.”

Published by Margaret Ferguson Books/Holiday House, the book is by Eisner Award-winning cartoonist Jonathan Case (Dear Creature, The New Deal, Batman ’66). It also marks the creator’s first graphic novel for kids ages 8 through 12.

Read details below:

“It’s been fifty years since sun sickness wiped out nearly all mammal life on Earth. The few communities who survived are only able to come out at night. But there are two humans who can live and travel freely in the daylight: 10-year-old Elvie and her caretaker, Flora, a biologist who discovered an antidote using the scales on monarch butterfly wings. Now, they’re on a mission to develop a vaccine by following the monarch migration. Will they succeed? Or will they fall to natural disaster, illness, or even the very people they’re trying to save?

Elvie and Flora’s adventures take place in real locations marked panel-by-panel with coordinates and a compass heading. Curious readers can follow their travel routes and see the same landscapes. Through both comic narrative and journal entries, kids–and adults!–can learn the basics of star navigation, how to tie useful knots, and other survival skills applicable in the natural world.”

The 256-page hardcover is available now and can be purchased here. Check out the cover and some pages below along with an intro synopsis from Case.

These pages are from the first chapter of Little Monarchs. Here, we meet Elvie and Flora on their way south: They’ve split off from the monarch migration to collect some unused vehicle batteries at a known scavenge point near former Pacific City, Oregon (the town I lived in when I was Elvie’s age). The large piece of driftwood here was in this exact spot my whole childhood. It finally washed away the year I left for college.