Fall 2023


A Graphic Novel

  • Interest Level: Grade 4 - Grade 8
  • Reading Level: Grade 4

Evan just wants to win a game. Bobby would rather fight than win.

Hockey—and life—keep handing them both losses. Their team, the Strikers, has a roster of rejects in hand-me-down coats but lacks good equipment, a deep bench, and a coach who shows up on time. Their town of Flint, Michigan, has been down on its luck their whole lives.

The boys may not understand each other, but together, they’ll find their reasons to keep taking the ice.

Strikers is a hilarious, hard hitting, and moving story about how to stay on your skates when you only see L’s in your future.

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Interest Level Grade 4 - Grade 8
Reading Level Grade 4
Genre Graphic Novels
Category Diverse Books: Social Class, Diversity, SEL: A Self-Awareness, SEL: B Self-Management, SEL: D Relationship Skills, Social Emotional Learning, Sports
Copyright 2023
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Graphic Universe ™
Language English
Number of Pages 168
Publication Date 2023-10-03
Text Type Fiction
BISACS JUV008090, JUV032110, JUV039020
Dewey 741.5/973
Dimensions 6 x 9
Guided Reading Level Z
Features Author/Illustrator biography, Awards, Original artwork, Reviewed, Teaching Guides, and eSource

Author: Kiel Phegley

Kiel Phegley is the author of over a dozen books for young readers. His work includes stories and comics starring popular characters like Sonic The Hedgehog, The Amazing World of Gumball and Halo. Strikers is inspired in part by his youth in and around Flint, Michigan where he read too many comics and played on a variety of sports teams poorly. A graduate of Hamline University's MFA in Writing for Children, Phegley lives with his family in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he is a lecturer on Children's Literature at Eastern Michigan University.

Illustrator: Jacques Khouri

Jacques Khouri makes animated films, works on commercials, teaches, and draws comics for a living. His influences range from animated cartoons to European and American comics. He currently lives in Montreal. You can find his work at ijotalot.com and jackkhouri.com. Please follow him on Tumblr or Instagram at @ijotalot.

Lerner eSource™ offers free digital teaching and learning resources, including Common Core State Standards (CCSS) teaching guides. These guides, created by classroom teachers, offer short lessons and writing exercises that give students specific instruction and practice using Common Core skills and strategies. Lerner eSource also provides additional resources including online activities, downloadable/printable graphic organizers, and additional educational materials that would also support Common Core instruction. Download, share, pin, print, and save as many of these free resources as you like!


Evan just wants to win a game. Bobby would rather fight than win. Hockey—and life—keep handing them both losses. Their team, the Strikers, has a roster of rejects in hand-me-down coats but lacks good equipment, a deep bench, and a coach who shows up on time. Their View available downloads →

Strikers: An Interview with Author Kiel Phegley

The weather is turning colder and that mean’s hockey season has begun! Strikers: A Graphic Novel takes readers back to the season of 1986 in Flint, Michigan where one team of underdogs will learn how to stay on their skates when they only see Ls in the future. Even though they may not… View →

Lerner Is Coming to ALA

By Megan Ciskowski, Associate Publicist Get ready for an amazing weekend with Lerner at the 2023 ALA Annual Conference & Exhibition. This year the conference will be held in Chicago, Illinois, from June 22nd to the 27th, and we hope to see all of you… View →


  • Great Lakes Great Books Award Nominee, Nominated, 2024
  • Michigan Notable Book, Winner, 2024



“While the story spends a lot of time on the ice with both games and practice, the interpersonal relationships, razzing, and camaraderie among the characters draw more attention. . . Readers who like their sports comics with both lots of action and vivid emotional dynamics are the best audience for this.” — Booklist

Publishers Weekly

“As the team bonds on and off the ice . . . they find support and stability in their relationships with one another while striving to get that elusive W.” —Publishers Weekly

Kirkus Reviews

“Persistence in the face of defeat and disappointment defines a season of sports and adolescent life.” —Kirkus Reviews

Dave Scheidt

“A love letter to the Midwest. A heartfelt tribute to all the benchwarmers out there just waiting for their shot.” —Dave Scheidt, author of Mayor Good Boy and Agents of SLAM

Mike Dawson

Strikers is the best kind of underdog tale. Funny, heartfelt, and action-packed, filled with scrappy kids figuring themselves out both on and off the ice.” —Mike Dawson, author of The Fifth Quarter

Brad Meltzer

“Fueled with hockey and humanity, Strikers delivers absolute proof of what it really means to be a champion. Kiel Phegley and Jacques Khouri shoot and score big.” —Brad Meltzer, bestselling author of the Ordinary People Change the World series

Gene Yang

“Fun and heartfelt with a touch of nostalgia.” —Gene Yang, bestselling author of American Born Chinese and Dragon Hoops