New Kid – book review

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New Kid
by Jerry Craft
Graphic Novel
Realistic Fiction
Tween
* * * * * Stars (Amazing!)

Because seventh grader Jordan Banks’ parents want the best education for their son, he ends up attending Riverdale Academy Day School instead of art school (but you get to see lots of his artwork/comics here!). It’s a wealthy, fancy pants place far from his neighborhood. At first Jordan doesn’t think he’s going to like it – it’s low on diversity (Jordan knows of only 2 other black students and 2 black faculty members), and many of the teachers and students are ignorant, insensitive or even blatantly racist. But he makes some friends – his guide, Liam, ends up being pretty cool, and Drew (another black student) is in the same situation as Jordan, so they get each other. The microaggressions Jordan and Drew and other non-white students (there’s a Guatemalan student who is assumed to be Mexican all the time) experience grate on them – particularly Drew – and Jordan surprises everyone when he stands up for all of them, pointing out how they’re treated differently, misidentified constantly, and how stereotypes and assumptions are made about them. This realistic middle school graphic novel does a wonderful job showing what minority kids may experience as they try to navigate the different social/cultural/colored spheres that overlap in their lives/world. For those who might not be ready for the grittier, “The Hate U Give,” (Angie Thomas) this is an excellent choice that gets into some of the same issues.

Reviewed by YA Librarian