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Reviewed by:
  • New Kid by Jerry Craft
  • Wesley Jacques
Craft, Jerry New Kid; written and illus. by Jerry Craft. Harper/HarperCollins, 2019 [256p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-269120-0 $18.99
Paper ed. ISBN 978-0-06-269119-4 $12.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-06-269121-7 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys Ad Gr. 4-7

In this graphic novel, twelve-year-old budding cartoonist Jordan is the eponymous New Kid at Riverdale Academy Day School (or “Rad”), a prestigious private school not too far away from his own Washington Heights neighborhood but far enough to be a world of its own. Rad is definitely not the art school Jordan had wished for, and though he’s not technically the only person of color in attendance, the faculty and student body are predominantly white and wealthy—with all of the micro- and macro-aggressions that entails—which makes the transition tough. Jordan’s mother remains steadfast in a disappointingly uncritical conviction that this school will open doors, so with no possible transfer in sight, Jordan begins to make friends, including a similarly new Black kid, who’s understandably frustrated [End Page 201] with being called every other Black student’s name but his own, and with a wealthy white boy, who just wants to play games and be “normal.” Unfortunately, uneven pacing and inconsistency in illustration make for a clumsy exploration of the pieces Craft sets in motion. The colorism threaded throughout a story where race is told but not always clearly shown—with physical features and color palettes shifting in distracting ways—remains unaddressed even as darker-skinned classmates face more pronounced issues of prejudice. Despite this, the fish out of water dynamic is relatable, and budding graphic novelists may be inspired by the accessible art.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1558-6766
Print ISSN
0008-9036
Pages
pp. 201-202
Launched on MUSE
2018-12-21
Open Access
No
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