New Kid by Jerry Craft is a middle grade graphic novel that tells the story of a boy named Jordan who has (against his will) been enrolled in a prestigious private school in the upscale (and predominantly white) neighborhood of Riverdale. While he didn't necessarily feel like he fit in among his peers at his old school in Washington Heights he really feels like the outsider at this school being one of only 3 students of color. (There's a lot of mixing up of names by the teachers + bullying by peers.) In classic 'rebellious preteen' fashion he feels that the world (i.e. good ol' mom) is set on ruining his life because she won't let him go to art school instead of this place where it seems like everyone is either rich, white, or both. To help him sort through his frustrations and rage he takes to working on a sketchbook detailing his experiences. [A/N:These comics are interspersed throughout the book.] New Kid is a coming of age story about classism, racism, and finding out where you truly belong.
Honesty compels me to tell you that I didn't necessarily love this book because of its predictability and slow moving pace. However, this book wasn't written with me in mind as its audience and therefore I think for the young person who is feeling 'other' and beaten down by circumstances out of their control this could be quite an important book. I liked the illustrative style particularly how it worked so well with the sprinkling of Jordan's comics with their very different artistic approach so no complaints on that front. For me it's a 4/10 but in terms of readability for that audience I'd say 8/10.
|An example of Craft's style. [Source: iTunes]|
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