Book Review: New Kid
by Jerry Craft
- A Top 150 African-American Children’s Book
- 2 Time AALBC.com Bestselling Book!
- Selected for 1 Book Club’s Reading List
- Coretta Scott King Award Winning Book 2020
- Kirkus Prize Finalist/Winner 2019
- Newbery Medal Winner or Honor 2020
Publication Date: Feb 05, 2019
List Price: $21.99
Format: Hardcover, 256 pages
Target Age Group: Middle Grade
Parent Company: News Corporation
Borrow from Library
Book Reviewed by Tony Lindsay
Jerry Craft’s graphic novel New Kid is a humorous teaching experience for any reader. Be warned, laughing out loud will occur while reading the text. The young African American protagonist, Jordan Banks, is transferred to a new middle school, but Jerry Craft doesn’t just cover the standard new kid issues: making friends, getting lost in school, avoiding bullies, and learning teachers. He has Jordan transferred to a school physical away from his neighborhood and financially above his parents means, and the student body and teachers are mostly white. With this type of transfer comes different issues, and Craft doesn’t shy away: prejudice is discussed, stereotyping is discussed, code switching is witnessed, and all three issues are juxtaposed against being an outsider.
Craft doesn’t hesitate to insert plot tension; the Banks family is not in complete agreement over the school transfer, and though Craft’s graphic images each character’s stance is obvious. Tension remains throughout the work; Jordan is always involved in a tense situation, which keeps expectancy high in the novel; the reader consistently wants to know what will happen next. What brings merit to the work is the humorous way Craft develops and introduces societal issues: one seldom sees humor in prejudice, especially when it affects the young, but Craft’s writing talent and his graphic skills create different views of old situations; he has his creations dealing with these issues and this brings his humor to old uncomfortable topics.
There is guidance for Jordan, but he must interpret the information provided and apply it. The reader sees Jordan growth (not physical – much to his dismay), his acceptance of difficult situations, and his leaning to do for others to better his own situation. New Kid gives a reader insight into the give and take of new situations, and teaches value in the old and the new, and it informs that growth lessons are all around … if understood.