The Girl Who Owned a City

The Graphic Novel

  • Interest Level: Grade 5 - Grade 12
  • Reading Level: Grade 7

A deadly virus killed every adult on Earth, leaving only the kids behind. With her parents gone, Lisa is responsible for her little brother, Todd. She has to make sure they stay alive. Many kids are sick or starving, and fierce gangs are stealing and destroying everything they find. Lots of people have given up, but on Grand Avenue, some kids are surviving. Because of Lisa.

Lisa figured out how to give the kids on Grand Avenue food, homes, and protection against the gangs. But Tom Logan and his army are determined to take that away and rule the streets themselves. How long can Lisa’s group keep fighting them off? They need to find a place to live safely. A strong place. A secret place.

In a world like this, someone has to take charge. But does Lisa have the strength to take charge of a whole city?

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Interest Level Grade 5 - Grade 12
Reading Level Grade 7
Genre Graphic Novels
Copyright 2012
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Graphic Universe ™
Language English
Number of Pages 128
Publication Date 2012-01-01
Text Type Fiction—Action/Adventure
BISACS JUV008040, JUV059000, JUV039180
Dewey 741.5'973
Graphics Full-color illustrations
Dimensions 6 x 8.5
Lexile 420
ATOS Reading Level 3.0
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 149853
Accelerated Reader® Points 1.0
Features Awards, Original artwork, and Reviewed

Author: O. T. Nelson

O. T. Nelson has said that he wrote The Girl Who Owned a City because he wanted "children to realize that they are important and that they have the ability to think and make a difference." Mr. Nelson is an artist and writer who lives in Minnesota with his wife. He has two adult children.

Illustrator: Joëlle Jones

Joëlle Jones launched her artistic career in 2006. Among her varied projects are the illustrations for three titles by Jamie S. Rich—12 Reasons Why I Love Her, You Have Killed Me, and Spell Checkers; the comic-book spinoff of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog; the Iron Man story in Marvel's Ultimate Spider-Man #150 by Brian Michael Bendis; and Janet Evanovich's bestselling graphic novel Troublemaker. She lives in Oregon.


  • Texas Maverick Graphic Novels Reading List, Winner, 2012


The Horn Book Guide

“This graphic novel adaptation of Nelson’s 1975 story maintains the original tension and finds room for political discourse.”The Horn Book Guide

Library Media Connection

“The strong-willed, resourceful main character sets an excellent example for girls of all ages and the ingenuity of the children shows the virtues of perseverance and resiliency in the face of disaster. Overall, this is an entertaining read with great artwork that is sure to attract fans of graphic novels.” —Library Media Connection


“This is a graphic-format retelling of Nelson’s 1975 novel, but it feels like a contemporary offering from the camp of postapocalyptic adventure… Jones’s gorgeous illustrations will suck readers in. It is an overall engaging story that could spark some lively debate over the true meaning of sharing and leadership.” —VOYA


“The questions of leadership and might over right will resonate with contemporary teen readers as strongly as they did in the original 1975 novel.” —Booklist

School Library Journal

“Jones’s illustrations are shaded in brown and green earth tones and are filled with movement and life. The faces of the children are angular and interesting, looking realistically like kids who have been struggling to survive. This will be an ideal recommendation for readers looking for a dystopian story in which young people need to step up and be their own heroes.” —School Library Journal

Publishers Weekly

“Like the original—first published in 1975—this is a fast-paced story with philosophical underpinnings, moving through time with effective montages of work and children’s drawings as the survivors attempt to create a new society. Jones’s art is colorful, bold, and lively, with sharply drawn characters.” —Publishers Weekly

Kirkus Reviews

“Just as ideologically unsettling—and patchwork—as ever, Nelson’s 1975 post-apocalyptic tale gets a noir graphic adaptation. Seeing the danger in trying to live apart after a virus kills off every adult and adolescent, Lisa organizes a growing crowd of the less-aggressive surviving children into an armed militia. Declaiming dictatorially that the new community is her property because ‘if the city belonged to no one in particular… Everyone would just squabble all the time,’ she insists that it be run her way, by her autocratic rules. By the same token, when, after several increasingly violent skirmishes, the brutal Chidester Gang invades, she heroically confronts their hideously disfigured leader and through force of personality singlehandedly drives the bandits off. In the dark but sharply drawn art, Lisa’s scowling, angular features amply convey hardnosed determination as she draws crowds of worshipful followers and defeats the toughs by claiming the moral high ground. Whether she merits it is a matter for discussion—but though this doesn’t equal Jennifer Armstrong and Nancy Butcher’s Fire-us series (not to mention Lord of the Flies) for credibility, the premise is a proven one for young audiences.” —Kirkus Reviews