NEW KID by Jerry Craft is a remarkable graphic novel about Jordan Banks, a seventh-grader who just wants to draw and go to art school. But, he instead starts the school year at an elite private school where he is just one of the few students of color. Jordan tries to adapt to his new environment and dynamics between teachers and classmates, ultimately trying to figure out where he belongs as he feels pulled between his two worlds.
I know I’m late to the party, but I’m so glad I finally read this. Honest and accessible, this story about race and the micro-aggressions that Jordan faces at his new school is worth taking the time to examine.
Jordan suddenly finds himself in a world where the color pink is called “salmon,” teachers call him the names of other black students, and assumptions are made about financial aid and other students of color. To help highlight these things, Jerry Craft’s artwork is vibrant and engaging as expressive full-color panels illustrate Jordan’s day-to-day. Additionally, entires from Jordan’s sketchbook are scattered, providing smart, honest social commentary along with Jordan’s unique sense of humor and metaphors.
New Kid is just one more example of the importance of graphic novels for young people. Not only are they great for reluctant readers or visual learners, but they are filled with text and images that require readers to follow plot and help improve reading comprehension. Also, in this particular instance, Jerry Craft’s story and artwork highlight how graphic novels can teach the important skill of inference.
New Kid is remarkable for so many reasons and I cannot recommend it enough as required middle school reading.
Suggested Reading Age: Grades 4-7 | Quill Tree Books / HarperCollins | 256 pg. | Feb. 5, 2019 |
“I used to think that when someone called me a name, that was the worst thing ever! … But you know the worst name that someone can call me? Someone ELSE’S name! Because that means they’re not even taking the time to look at you long enough to even find something to insult! They’re saying that you’re not even worth their time and are insignificant!”