Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier and Gene Luen Yang, New Kid is a timely, honest graphic novel about starting over at a new school where diversity is low and the struggle to fit in is real, from award-winning author-illustrator Jerry Craft.
Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.
As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?
This story offers multiple opportunities to discuss weighty matters—explicit racism, systemic racism, social classes, preconceived stereotypes, misunderstandings, lack of self-esteem, and more. As a graphic novel, its read time is short, so consider taking time to have discussions about these important topics along the way as they arise and revisiting them and their resolution at the end of the story.
Some important points in the story are insightfully conveyed by the illustrations as they play out in the text. For example, Jordan expects he and Maury will have a lot in common. But as they visit, they realize they don’t. At the same moment, Craft depicts them standing on two separate worlds. What point does this emphasize? Where else did you notice the illustrations telling part of the story?
I liked the story’s lessons about not judging people based on stereotypes but instead getting to know them and the unifying impact of serving others.
I read this book to my five and seven year olds. They are still innocent to the prejudices of the world. They see all people with equality and don’t understand why we would look down on others because of skin color. I love this about children and want to keep them that way as long as possible so I did skip over a few racial comments that might have tainted their view. All three of us really enjoyed reading this book. It showed insecurities that each of the characters had and portrayed racism from each of their points of view. It had me laughing and feeling so grateful for good kids, good choices and good friends.
Jerry Craft is an author-illustrator who has worked on numerous books for young readers. Jerry created Mama’s Boyz, an award-winning comic strip. He has won five African American Literary Awards and cofounded the Black Comic Book Festival. He received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts and lives in Connecticut.
On his inspiration for New Kid
“More than anything, I wanted to give 10-year-old Jerry Craft a book he could read and say was his own. That was probably the reason I was not a reader until I was an adult. The things I had to read in school couldn’t have been further from my life. Or if it was someone who looked like me, it couldn’t be further from the life I wanted to live when I got older.”
To all the Jordan Bankses of the world. To my family, Jay, Aren, and Autier. thank you for making me a better person. Thanks to my agent, Judy Hansen, my editor Andrew Eliopulos, and the team at HarperCollins for embracing my vision. Thanks to Marva Allen, Pam Allyn, Debra Lakow Dorfman, David Saylor, Andrea Davis Pinkney, and Andrea Colvin for inspiring me along the way. And last but not least, thanks to Barbara Slate, Jim Keefe, Ray Billingsley, M’shindo Kuumba, Eric Velasquez, Danni Ai, and Jennifer Crute for making me a better artist.
“Jordan’s black-and-white notebook drawings are the highlight of this work, combining effective social commentary with the protagonist’s humorous voice.”
“Craft skillfully employs the graphic-novel format to its full advantage, giving his readers a delightful and authentic cast of characters who, along with New York itself, pop off the page with vibrancy and nuance.” (starred review)
“This engaging story . . . captures the high jinks of middle schoolers and . . . tensions that come with being a person of color in a traditionally white space.”