Stereotypes and expectations can be difficult, especially when they come from your peers. New Kid by Jerry Craft tells the story of 12 year old Jordan Banks as he embarks on his first year at Riverdale Academy Day School.
Jordan’s struggles at his new school stem from his desire to make his parents proud, his wanting to be accepted both from his neighborhood and new school friends, and his wanting to stay true to himself by following his dreams of going to art school. This is all additionally difficult when you are one of the few non white students at Riverdale Academy. Throughout the course of the school year, Jordan develops friendships that help him find answers to some of life’s tougher questions, all while exposing some of the harmful behaviors and mindsets that the people in his world exhibit. He finds his voice within his own comic book drawings all while gaining the strength to speak up and truly become a “new kid”.
The graphic novel’s take of “otherness” is accessible to both middle grade readers and beyond. While the story covers tough themes on race, injustice, and social structures, it also focuses on identity, and seeing beyond how the world may perceive someone. The book’s witty cultural references, lively artwork, and relatable characters, make this an incredibly enjoyable and lesson filled read.
2021 Rebecca Caudill Award nominee
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