Jordan Banks is a kid from Washington Heights who wants nothing more than to go to art school. When his parents enrolled him in a prestigious private school, Jordan is one of the few kids of color in the entire school. Jordan struggles finding his place as he bounces between two worlds.
Full disclosure: I don’t read graphic novels. I fully support those who do, but the only reason I picked up this book was because it was the 2020 Newbery winner. And I’m so glad I did.
First of all, once I got used to the style of reading (again, I don’t read graphic novels or comic books) it was funny, sweet, and very enjoyable. Race is a big topic, not just now, but always, and if you’re looking for books either for your classroom or your children to start addressing the struggles and realities of people of color, or just to encourage a bit more diversity in your library, this is a really good one.
What I really appreciated is that currently this issue can spark a lot of feelings and reactions among people, but this book approaches the subject very gently, with humor, and a VERY relatable main character.
Craft nails the connection to the reader: Jordan is someone that we ALL can relate to, regardless of whether we go to a private school or not.
The illustrations are lively and full of wit and humor, and for this graphic novel noob, I thought they were a lot of fun.
None, I would be comfortable giving this to my eight-year old to read, but I do think it’s a book that could and should be discussed, especially with everything that is happening in the world today.
This book can open up doors for quite a few discussions:
- Race and racism.
- Identity and feeling of belonging
- Bullying and disrespect
And I also like the idea of using different forms of literature in the classroom. A graphic novel is much less intimidating to struggling readers, and we all love books with pictures.
Go check out New Kid by Jerry Craft!