Thursday, March 14, 2019

Graphic Novel review of New Kid by Jerry Craft

36005510New Kid by Jerry Craft
Format:  Hardcover
Publisher: Harper Collins
Number of Pages: 256
Published:  February 5th, 2019
Source:  Library

Opening Line: "This is how I feel every single day of my life, like I'm falling without a parachute."

Jordan is disappointed to learn his parents have chosen to send him to a private school in Riverdale, rather than the art school that he wanted to attend.  He'd much rather spend his time drawing cartoons and hanging out with his friend in Washington Heights, then going to some prestigious school where he'll probably only have a few kids that he can relate to anyway.  Despite his protests, each day Jordan takes the bus from his home in Washington Heights to the Riverdale Academy and as he suspected, he starts to feel like he doesn't fit in.  On his first day of school, Jordan experiences students making racist comments, teachers who refer to some of the students of color by their former student's names, and witnesses microaggressions directed toward other students he meets at school.  The whole experience leaves him feeling lost and alone and uncertain that his new school is where he really wants to be.  

I'm pretty sure that I heard about New Kid from Jarrett Lerner's tweet about it and the #MGBookMarch's prompt for Your Favorite MG Graphic Novel.  The responses were overwhelmingly positive and I can certainly see why.  I'm fairly certain that this will be a very strong contender for many book awards, and will be making its way into classrooms and libraries.    

One of my favorite things about reading this book was the artwork.  How real to life these kids look, and I loved that Jordan's own comic book illustrations from his sketchbook were included in the story.  I also loved the realistic, honest way that it portrayed racial bias, privilege, and microaggressions through the telling of Jordan's story.  I'm sure many people can relate to that feeling of being the new kid at school, but this story is about so much more than being a new kid.  It's a glimpse into how racial bias, privilege, and the use of stereotypes make the person of color feel.   I so enjoyed the inclusion of Alex, who was sweet, wore hand puppets and made silly voices, who others thought was "weird," but never took the time to understand why she chose to wear the hand puppets.  

Even now there are kids who are struggling, trying to navigate their way through a school where daily other kids are bullied and there are people making racist comments, there are even teachers who are oblivious to the fact that they are doing the same thing when they single out kids, make assumptions or can't even get their students name right as happened with Jordan.  You just have to look at recent events at a prestigious high school in the Bronx  (The Ethical Culture Fieldston School) where students staged a sit-in in response to a racist video that had been circulating, making this story even more relevant, necessary and one I hope many children get the opportunity to read.  

As a side note, I read an interview by CrazyQuiltEdi where Craft talked about his hopes for New Kid:

 I have so many goals for New Kid. For one, I would love to create characters that mean as much to kids of color as Wimpy Kid, or Percy Jackson or any other books that you see kids carry around. I’d like them to think of this as a book that made them laugh, and also challenged them to think. But I would also LOVE for this to have the same effect on their teachers and their parents. There are so many microaggressions and some that are not so micro, that our kids face on a daily basis which can undermine the biggest reason why they’re in school in the first place, which is to learn! "  

I too hope that New Kid will be as popular and that he will write many more stories to come.  And that school in the Bronx, well those kids successfully achieved their goal of getting the school administrators to listen to their demands.    


  1. Oooh! I'm going to have to check this one out!! Great review!

    1. Thanks for stopping by Erica, hope you get a chance to read New Kid. Love to hear your thoughts if you do.

  2. Graphic novels are so popular with kids right now (I have been a fan of graphic novels forever). This sounds like a very important book and one that I look forward to checking out. Thanks for sharing- not sure how I missed this one. :)