My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Please Note: This is a review of an advance reader’s edition | New Kid is scheduled to release February 2019. Thank you to Jerry Craft & HarperCollins Children’s Books for sending New Kid on a #BookExcursion.
Jordan Banks is the new kid at one of the best private schools in the state that offers a wealth of academic and extra-curricular opportunities and experiences for its students and while its prestige is praiseworthy, it is woefully lacking in diversity. Jordan is one of a small number of students of color at the school but just like every other twelve-year-old middle school student has to navigate making new friends, avoiding awkward crushes, getting good grades, and making time to do what he loves most-drawing cartoons. His art is embedded throughout the text and gives the reader an inside look at Jordan’s thoughts on well, just about everything. His drawings are informative, oftentimes laugh-out-loud hilarious, and honest. This book is sure to be a hit and I cannot wait for its release in early 2019.
There’s a gaping void as it concerns the representation of African American youths in books in general across all genres but especially in graphic novels. Jerry Craft expertly enters into this space and gifts us with New Kid. It is a relevant read. A cool, down-to-earth middle school story for everyone. I want to hug this book! I want to read it over and over and then wrap it up and give a copy to every child I know. No doubt that Jerry Craft upholds his mission to “write the books he wishes he had when he was a kid” because this is the sort of book I wish I’d had as a child. No offense to The Baby-Sitters Club series from back in my day, but what about books with characters that look like me and share in my experiences? I would have loved a book like this!
If it were possible, I would travel back in time to 1988 and give this book to my 11-year-old self, specifically right before I moved from Long Island to Buffalo. The year I became the New Kid. I didn’t attend a private school but I was that Black adolescent girl navigating a new school in a predominantly White neighborhood. I can relate to feeling out of place and awkward in both Black and White circles, thinking that I had to try and figure out how not to “act White” while at the same time maintaining my street cred and the cool factor that my Long Island accent earned me. Seriously! Code-switching is a reality that I only began to understand in adulthood. It was (and still is) a means of fitting in with the majority but over the last decade or so I’ve learned that I will always and forever be authentically and unapologetically me. A Black woman who follows after the heart of God. Professional. Intelligent. Quirky. Fun-loving. Me. I hope this book will show all students that it is okay to stay true to themselves too. That they can make and maintain friendships just by being who they are.
I would recommend this book for intermediate elementary students (4th-5th grade), middle school and high school too. I honestly think it will have a wide range of interest much like books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Amulet, Sisters, and Drama that are read from elementary school straight through high school. Just go ahead and pre-order it. You’ll be glad you did!
Jerry Craft | http://www.jerrycraft.net/
HarperCollins Children’s Books | https://www.harpercollins.com/childrens/