Book Series Review of New Kid and Class Act
The Children’s Book Review
What to Expect: School, class differences, racism, friendship
These two award-winning graphic novels by Jerry Craft are witty, poignant, and extremely well-written. Humor softens the exploration of some challenging topics, ranging from covert racism to parental conflict and bullying, all of which are presented as complex, multi-layered, and definitely not “gritty.”
Readers will get to know Jordan and his friends through the sharp, perceptive comics he shares in his sketchbook, and the graphic style of the narrative allows readers to see and interpret events for themselves. Jordan is an engaging, relatable character whose frustrations and triumphs are easy to empathize with, and any reader can learn a lot by seeing the world through his eyes.
New Kid and Class Act are fantastic for classroom discussion—but, more importantly, they are utterly enjoyable reads.
Written and Illustrated by Jerry Craft
Ages 9+ | 256 Pages
Publisher: Quill Tree Books | ISBN: 9780062691194
In New Kid, we meet Jordan Banks – a seventh grader who would give anything to be going to art school instead of Riverdale Academy, an exclusive New York private school for the children of the elite. In learning to navigate his new world, Jordan will have to come to terms with the code-switching and multiple identities that both his home and school communities demand from him, as well as learning to navigate and analyze his own reactions to overt racism, systemic inequality, and the awkwardness of being a teenager.
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Written and illustrated by Jerry Craft
Ages 9+ | 256 Pages
Publisher: Quill Tree Books | ISBN: 9780062885500
Class Act continues the story, showing us Jordan’s increasing maturity as his two best friends – one White and privileged, and one Black and not – begin to drift apart. As Drew becomes increasingly angry about the ongoing fight to be himself without judgment, Liam struggles to cope with the family tensions that underlie his privileged life. Jordan is the glue that holds them together – but does he even want to stay at Riverdale Academy? Just one more year, and he can escape to art school…
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About the Author and Illustrator
Jerry Craft is an author and illustrator. New Kid is his middle grade graphic novel that has earned five starred reviews, including one from Booklist magazine, which called it “possibly one of the most important graphic novels of the year.” Kirkus Reviews called it “an engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in America.”
He is the creator of Mama’s Boyz, a comic strip that was distributed by King Features Syndicate from 1995-2013, and won five African American Literary Awards. Jerry is a co-founder of the Schomburg’s Annual Black Comic Book Festival. He was born in Harlem and grew up in nearby Washington Heights. He is a graduate of The Fieldston School and received his B.F.A. from the School of Visual Arts. Get more info at www.jerrycraft.com
Read our exclusive interview: Jerry Craft Discusses New Kid
The New Kid and Class Act book series review was curated by Dr. Jen Harrison. Discover more books like these titles by following along with our reviews and articles tagged with School, Racism, and Friendship.