When asked what they want in a book, parents and kids agree: they want good stories with strong characters who face a challenge and overcome it. They also want to laugh. Over the years, American Girl has been committed to developing high-quality characters and stories that resonate with and delight girls and their parents, books that capture readers’ imaginations and bring them a sense of connection and joy. No matter the medium, the values that drove the development of Kirsten, Samantha, and Molly’s stories continue to fuel American Girl’s storytelling: we continue to strive for well-crafted narratives featuring engaging characters who contribute to and occupy a special place in American Girl’s fictional universe.
And it is in that extraordinary universe that American Girl’s first graphic novel, According to Aggie, resides.
Readers of American Girl magazine first met the comic’s eponymous character, Aggie, in 2013 as she excitedly prepared for her 11th birthday party, only to discover that her friend Fiona planned her own “party of the century” for the same day. In just 17 panels spread across two colorful pages, “Birthday Party Panic” tells a complete and self-contained short story, introduces an endearing female protagonist, addresses friendship dynamics and a realistic dilemma that many tweens would face—just as Aggie had—with mixed emotions, and offers just the right balance of madcap humor and subtle wisdom to make it all feel genuine.
That’s one of many things that is marvelous about the genre: comics blend visual storytelling and language art to create succinct, compelling stories that are surprisingly rich and engaging for the space they occupy. They rely on both words and images, considered together, to convey meaning.
Comics also offer a unique opportunity for readers to immerse themselves, both visually and conceptually, in another’s world. When a girl picks up a comic or graphic novel, she reads more than the words on the page: she “reads” the sequencing of the panels and the logic that drives the story; she “reads” gesture and facial expression in the character illustrations; she “reads” for shifts in color and perspective that complement the language and contribute to the richness of her reading experience.
For all these reasons, comics and graphic novels are uniquely positioned to explore complex issues in ways that are nuanced, encouraging, and—when appropriate—fun. According to Aggie creators Mary Richards Beaumont, Dan Nordskog, and Genevieve Kote had all that in mind as they developed American Girl’s first graphic novel, featuring Aggie. With humor and a little heartache, According to Aggie takes up one of the more challenging trials of growing up: What does it mean when friendships change and friends grow apart?
Readers familiar with According to Aggie from the magazine’s comic series will love the longer visit to Aggie’s world that the graphic novel offers. But According to Aggie extends a warm welcome to readers new to Aggie, too, inviting them in with a vibrant, friendly, and thoughtful tale—a slice of tween life in a collection of frames.