Junior Review: New Kid
Jordan Banks is an ordinary twelve year old boy who dreams of going to art school. His parents... have other ideas.
In this graphic novel, we follow Jordan’s story as he finds himself bundled off to a swanky private school, notable for its privileged students and a distinct lack of cultural diversity.
It’s a far cry from the neighbourhood he calls home, and finds himself torn between two different worlds.
Jordan happens to be African American, and his story runs deep with themes of racial prejudice, economic privilege and what it’s like to be in the minority.
Throughout the book, author Jerry Craft takes every opportunity to explore these ideas in an illuminating and often entertaining way. From the teacher who repeatedly confuses the names of her black students, to Jordan’s realisation that friendship doesn’t always look the way you expect it to.
New Kid isn’t heavily plot driven, but instead focuses on character relationships. Craft also intersperses the story with spreads from Jordan’s sketchbook, which act as a neat insight into the character’s mind.
The overarching theme of this story is a universal one, the experience of trying to fit in and find your place in the world. For this, New Kid is highly relatable, because we’ve all been there at one time or another.
Jordan’s story feels like an important and timely one to tell, and clearly the literary world agrees. It is the first graphic novel ever to win the Newbery Medal for its outstanding contribution to children’s literature. It also happens to be a highly enjoyable read.
New Kid will appeal to anyone interested in exploring issues of race and prejudice, as well as lovers of contemporary graphic novels such as Guts, Ghost and Smile by Raina Teglemeier, or Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai.
Title: New Kid
Author/Illustrator: Jerry Craft
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers, $22.40
Publication Date: 20 March 2019
For ages: 8 – 12
Type: Junior Fiction