Title: The New Kid
Author: Jerry Craft
Genre: YA graphic novel; realistic fiction; code switching; Black culture
Synopsis: (from Goodreads) 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?
Review: 5 stars
Jerry Craft created something really special with The New Kid. I loved every moment of this book. This had something for everyone, but I thought it was really wonderful as a magnet school teacher. It reminded me that I should always be learning, trying to be better – not just a surface ally for different communities.
Jordan goes to a private school and immediately feels the effects of having to code switch between his home life and his school life. He meets a lot of interesting people along the way – some good natured, and some not. There’s a teacher that always calls the minority students by the wrong name. There’s a POC teacher who always gets called “coach” even though he isn’t a coach. There are some really great friends made along the way too.
When Jordan meets up with his grandfather, his grandfather makes this analogy to Jordan’s Chinese food ordering past. He tells him that he doesn’t necessarily needs to just like one thing, and somethings can be combined. This helps Jordan come to terms with his white friend, Liam, and his Black friend Drew, being in the same circle. It also helps him reconnect with Kirk, his Washington Heights friend. He learns he doesn’t have to have just one kind of friend, and doesn’t have to keep all of them separate.
The New Kid is a really great medium for young readers who go through the educational systems we have in the US. Magnets, privates, charters – these can all be isolating places, and the way Craft writes it is really raw, illustrative, and clean.