Here’s my pre-X-Mas best books for kids #1 top recommendation: Kazu Kibuishi’s Amulet series. Volumes 1-3 are out so far. So start with The Stonekeeper [amazon]. How they can sell a 200 page full-color graphic novel for under $7 and turn a profit is beyond me.
You can find preview material here. One word about the prologue to volume 1: it’s disturbing because the dad dies. My daughters (ages 6 and 9) almost gave up because that scene upset them so much (note to self: don’t die in car accident). But then it turns into a ripping yarn with a girl hero. Both girls are now of the considered opinion that the Amulet books are ‘the best books ever’.
Check out the rest of Kibuishi’s site – his gallery gives a good sample of his style. I’m thinking about buying my daughters a print for their wall. Maybe ‘the walking house’. Which is the final page from The Stonekeepers. I’ve enjoyed the Kibuishi edited Flight books for several years already. Here’s the preview page for vol. 7. “Premium Cargo” is the best story! Daisy Kutter was good Old West Steampunk fun, but Amulet raises the bar. Not that the story is new. Kid enters strange magical world, turns out to be The Chosen One With A Special Power, has to fight the Dark Power with the help of a small band of fellow fighters and scrappy sidekicks. But it really bounces along in a clever and good-hearted way. Solid dialogue, distinctive characterizations. Nice mix of humor and seriousness and action and sweeping visual spectacle. Stylistically, and world-design-wise, Kibuishi owes a lot to a lot of folks, from Jeff Smith to Hayao Miyazaki. But he’s got his own style, for sure, and it’s a distinct pleasure just to flip through the pages.