HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: New Kid
Author and Illustrator: Jerry Craft
Publisher: Quill Tree Books, 2019
ISBN-13: 978-0062691200 Hardcover
ISBN-10: 0062691201 Hardcover
ISBN-13: 978-0062691194 Paperback
ISBN-10: 0062691198 Paperback
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 8 – 12
Rating: **** 4 stars
(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Craft, Jerry. New Kid (Published in 2019 by Quill Tree Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, 195 Broadway, New York City, NY 10007). Twelve year old Jordan Banks lives with his father Chuck, who runs a community center, and mother Ellice, who works for a magazine publisher, in the Washington Heights area of New York City, NY. As he enters seventh grade, Jordan, who loves drawing cartoons about his life in his sketchbook, wants to go to art school, but his parents enroll him in the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, a prestigious private school known for its academics, instead. Unfortunately, the new school is a place where diversity is low, and Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade, so he faces a real struggle to fit in. What happens as Jordan tries to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends? Does he make any new friends? Can he survive? Will he return?
This book won the 2020 Newbery Medal, the first “graphic novel” to do so. You may ask, what is a “graphic novel”? Think fancy name for an extended comic book. I must tell you that I am NOT a fan of graphic novels. I am a word person. When putting something together, I would much rather have a set of detailed instructions to read than a bunch of fuzzy pictures with vague statements like “connect A to B as in illustration.” To be honest, I had a little trouble keeping up with what little action there is in New Kid because of difficulty following the bubbles of conversation from picture to picture. I must agree with the reviewer who wrote, “This ‘book’ is filled with comic book style pictures with some text, but not a lot. This book might be suitable for person who isn’t an adequate reader of text novels.”
That being said, there is a fairly interesting story here about being the “new kid.” It would appeal mainly to students in institutional schools and most especially to those from minority backgrounds. Homeschoolers might read it to help them appreciate all the school related problems that they don’t have to face. Several reviewers noted how that the book is “a complex examination of the micro- and macroaggressions that Jordan endures from classmates and teachers.” I don’t keep up with all the latest psychobabble. Some appreciate the way the book points out “all the microagressions that POC deal with on a daily basis that those of us in white skin never have to think about,” while others think that it’s a bit overdone and clichéd. The book is clean, and besides a few common euphemisms, including the ubiquitous “omigosh,” there is nothing objectionable.