Hope you are enjoying March! We’ve had several days of true spring weather and we are LOVING it! I can send the kids outside, we’re all getting more sunshine, and looking forward to many outdoor adventures this year!
Today I am here with a review. Suddenly, I find myself not so far behind as I had been on my reviews. And while I haven’t posted much else lately, I am quite proud to be doing well in my reviews. My review today focuses on New Kid by Jerry Craft–the 2020 Newbery Medal winner.
- I was very intrigued by this Newbery winner. I haven’t ever read a graphic novel before and the genre was interesting. A well deserved winner with a new to me way of telling an important story.
- I was impressed to learn that Jerry Craft both wrote and illustrated this book. I think that’s so cool!
According to Goodreads, “A graphic novel about starting over at a new school where diversity is low and the struggle to fit in is real.
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?“
I enjoyed experiencing a new genre: the graphic novel. As a graphic novel newbie, I must admit my ignorance on the nuances of the genre. It seems mostly like a comic book with a more serious story. (Any comic book versus graphic novel experts out there?) But I enjoyed it. It was fun to read the speech bubbles and very quick to read. I also like the way the pictures tell the story. Sometimes a character has a look on their face that says something. Or you see how people act around someone else. You see characters losing their cool or being unrealistic about their opinions. It was a neat way to experience a story. And I loved all of Jordan’s drawings at the start of chapters and how he expressed his opinions through his art. Sometimes it was hard to get enough details on some scenes. For more details, I would have liked a traditional novel format to understand some of the arguments between kids and even between teachers. Also getting inside some of the heads of other characters would have been interesting. I think there are a few drawbacks in this genre but, overall, a neat and new to me way to tell a story.
Jordan is a great main character. I really enjoyed his journey and how he gives the new school a chance. I appreciated how he tries to fit in and is able to be true to himself and what he likes. Jordan loves to draw and he keeps that as part of himself both at school and at home. I liked how he expressed his feelings about different people in his art. And the chapter scenes were fun too! Jordan’s experience felt realistic and relatable. He makes some good friends. He deals with bullies. He tries to understand art in a new way. He tries to keep his old friends even as he goes to a new school. He learns more about his parents. And even navigates prejudice and misinformed adults. That was really interesting. Even though we didn’t get the story from him in a traditional way, Jordan’s narrative voice and opinions were seen throughout the story.
This book talks about tough issues in open minded ways. I think it would spark some productive conversations for middle grade readers about these issues. The most obvious theme is talking about racism and understanding how to treat others like normal people. Sometimes teachers and other students made assumptions or jokes about Jordan and his friends. But if they just treated them with respect regardless of their skin color, it wouldn’t have been as awkward. There are other important, relatable issues discussed as well like changing schools, bulling, and being yourself. I appreciated the ways Craft blends these issues into his story in ways that are natural while not coming off as preachy or political. The conversations that could come from this book are potentially fantastic for readers both in school and adults.
Overall, I am glad to have this Newbery winner! I enjoying reading in a new to me genre and experiencing a relatable story. Jordan is a great protagonist that readers of all ages will cheer for. A few things weren’t resolved in detail that I would have liked to know more about like Jordan’s sketchbook ending up with his teacher and if he is going to do art school or stick with this school. I did see that there is a sequel to this so perhaps I will need to check that out soon. A neat read!
Have you read any graphic novels? What do you enjoy them?
What middle grade novels have made you think about important issues?
I read this Newbery Medal winner as a part of my Newbery Challenge.
My current goal is to read at least 1 Newbery winner a month until I’ve read them all.