New Kid by Jerry Craft: Book Review

April 30th, 2019 by

new-kid-jerry-craftWhen I was in 4th grade, my family spent a few months in Los Angeles, almost 400 miles away from our home in San Francisco. Here’s what was great about that: We lived much closer to Disneyland! Here’s what wasn’t great: I had to attend a new school and make new friends.

If you’ve ever been the new kid, you know how hard it can be. Everyone already knows each other, they already know the teachers, and they know all the behind-the-scenes info that keeps you from looking like a fool as you navigate campus.

But being the new kid is even harder for Jordan in the graphic novel New Kid by Jerry Craft. That’s because he’s one of the few students of color at the fancy Riverdale Academy Day School.

Jordan is an aspiring cartoonist, so he wants to attend art school. But his parents insist on sending him to Riverdale Academy because of its focus on academics. So every day he leaves behind his family and old friends in Washington Heights and travels up to Riverdale, where he has to deal with kids who are mostly oblivious to their privilege — or worse, make racist remarks to Jordan and some of his classmates who also aren’t white or who are on financial aid. Even some of the teachers show obvious bias in their behavior towards Jordan. Then there are the teachers who mean well, but still treat Jordan differently as they try to show they’re not biased.

But it’s not all bad. Jordan makes friends, practices drawing, and gets more comfortable at Riverdale Academy. Still, as Jordan moves between his two worlds, there are plenty of challenges for him to deal with and a lot for him to figure out — not just about school, but also about himself.

I’d recommend this book to literally everyone. Okay, maybe not to little kids who can’t read yet. But everyone else should check out New Kid. Students, adults, everyone. For some readers, it will reflect their reality — capturing their feelings in both a touching and funny way. (Prime example: Jordan’s comics about dealing with his classmates and teachers offer social commentary in a package that’s sharp and hilarious.) For other readers, New Kid may be a window into a life that’s very different from their own — and yet, I bet they’ll still identify with Jordan and hopefully gain some empathy for his experience.

But don’t take my word for it — check out the recommendation below from Jeff Kinney, the author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid:

"Funny, sharp, and totally real! Jordan Banks is the kid everyone will be talking about!" - Jeff Kinney, author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid

The above image also gives you a taste of the artwork in the book. For more of a preview, here are a couple spreads from the publisher’s website:

Have you ever been the new kid? Leave a comment with your story! (Just be sure not to mention names, like the name of your school!)

— Karen

The first week of college, Karen’s parents sent her a birthday cake. Karen took it room to room, offering slices to her classmates. Pro tip: sharing baked goods = an excellent way to make new friends!

More about Karen »

Kidsmomo Podcast #33: “New Kids on the Block”

September 14th, 2010 by

A new kid who conspires with a mobster. A new kid whose life changes because of a dog. And a new kid who makes Karen cry. Plus, meet the nuke kid, the nude kid, and the newt kid! We’ve got ’em all in our latest podcast, all about books starring “the new kid.”

(And be sure to stay tuned all the way to the end, to catch our lightning round competition based on this theme’s mystery book!)

      (11:18) 
    Download the MP3 (10.9 MB)

  • Al Capone on Al Catraz (get it?!) — aka our mystery book revealed
  • Our New Kid book picks (Libby on Wednesday and Bridge to Terabithia)
  • A New Kid book review from YOU (Because of Winn-Dixie)
  • Karen vs. Nancy in a speed battle of wits!

Also, don’t forget: our new theme is books about orphans — but don’t worry, they’re not all sad! So send us a review of your favorite book about an orphan and check out our picks for books about orphans.

— Karen and Nancy

Character Interviews: (NOT) Welcoming the New Kid

September 11th, 2010 by

The books for our current theme are all about new kids — some of whom don’t exactly get the warmest welcome. Sure, you could luck out like Emily Ebers (in the books by Lisa Yee) and make friends with someone really cool like Millicent Min. Okay, Millicent isn’t exactly “cool,” but she’s really nice.

On the other hand, some of the locals aren’t so nice to the new kids in our books for this theme. And I caught up with some of them to get the inside scoop for Kidsmomo:

“Well, once there was this girl who was just… just… WEIRD. Her clothes didn’t match. I mean, I guess some people would think she’s original and cool, but I thought it was weird. She dressed like it was Halloween every day. It must be a family thing, because her little brother dressed like it was Halloween all the time, too. Maybe they’re just really into Halloween.”

Rosemary

“Word of advice: When you meet the new girl, don’t pull her pigtails and call her ‘Carrots,’ no matter how much you want her to pay attention to you because she’s really cute. Because she’ll hold a grudge for a really, really long time. It might be years before she agrees to be your friend.”

Gilbert Blythe

“I hate when people get in my face. Especially losers. So when a new kid — a big-time loser — gets to camp, I show him who’s boss. I usually grab his scrawny neck and drag him into the bathroom. Then I give a good dunking in the toilet.”

Clarisse La Rue

When asked about the incident with a certain son of Poseidon, Miss La Rue rudely stated the interview was over, tore off her microphone, and hit me in the face with it.

Okay, I didn’t actually interview these characters, obviously. Because they’re fictional. Which is just as well, because I’m pretty sure Clarisse would beat me up. 🙁

— Nancy

After re-imagining an encounter with Clarisse, Nancy decided that she could get a decent punch in. She’s pretty feisty.

More about Nancy »

Book Trailer: Al Capone Does My Shirts

September 7th, 2010 by

This book trailer for Al Capone Does My Shirts was originally the Mystery Book Theater video for our The New Kid theme. For more on Al Capone Does My Shirts, check out our “New Kids on the Block” podcast.

If you’ve ever been the new kid, then you know it can be rough making new friends and learning how things work at your new school. But imagine how hard it would be if your new home were a prison — literally. That’s what the main character is up against in Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko!

Introducing… Books About “The New Kid”

August 30th, 2010 by

A fish out of water. In over your head. Thrown to the wolves.

When you’re the new kid at school or in town, many sayings can apply — but none of them seem to capture the full experience. So instead, we offer up these books about being “the new kid” (in no particular order):

  1. Libby on Wednesday by Zilpha Keatley Snyder (Karen’s pick)
  2. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson (Nancy’s pick)
  3. Ellie McDoodle: New Kid in School by Ruth McNally Barshaw
  4. Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls Book 2: The New Girl
  5. Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
  6. Belle Teal by Ann M. Martin
  7. A Friendship for Today by Patricia McKissack
  8. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
  9. Firegirl by Tony Abbott
  10. Surviving the Applewhites by Stephanie S. Tolan
  11. Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
  12. Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
  13. Doodlebug by Karen Romano Young
  14. So Totally Emily Ebers by Lisa Yee

(And here’s a printable version of our New Kid booklist, for you to take to the library or bookstore, or send as a gift to friends in your old hometown.)

If you’ve read any of these, send in your book review. Or send in a review of your favorite book about “the new kid.”

UPDATE 9/14/10: We revealed the answer to our New Kid Mystery Book Theater in the “New Kids on the Block” Podcast, so take a listen if you want to know the answer. Or just tune in if you want to hear Nancy and Karen compete ina lightning round game where one of them is definitely NOT a very gracious winner.