Sonderbooks Book Review of

New Kid

by Jerry Craft

New Kid

by Jerry Craft
with color by Jim Callahan

Review posted June 3, 2019.
Harper, 2019. 250 pages.
Review written March 12, 2019, from a library book
2020 John Newbery Medal Winner
2020 Coretta Scott King Author Award Winner

Navigating middle school is the perfect subject for graphic novels and fictionalized memoirs. I’m thinking of Smile, Roller Girl, Real Friends, All’s Faire in Middle School, and Be Prepared -- and then realize that none of those I mentioned have a boy protagonist. So, okay, it’s time.

New Kid is about Jordan Banks, an African American boy who’s being sent by his parents to start seventh grade at a fancy private school. Jordan wants to go to art school, but his mother thinks this is such a wonderful opportunity, he needs to go Riverdale Academy Day School.

This graphic novel is about navigating middle school as the new kid – and a new kid who’s one of the few African American students. We notice things like teachers consistently calling him by the wrong name, and other students looking at him when financial aid is mentioned, and assuming he’ll especially like the one teacher who’s African American.

And there are other quirks of middle school. Making friends. A girl who carries a puppet on her hand and talks in a puppet voice. A mean kid and his friends. A nice kid who’s really rich. What your parents want for you versus what you want (art school). Keeping up with friends who don’t attend the private school.

I hope this book is as popular as the ones I named above. It’s a lot of fun, and it throws in some insights along the way.