New Kid by Jerry Craft is a well-deserved 2021 Intermediate AND Middle School Nutmeg nominee.
Jordan Banks is transferring to the elite Riverdale Academy Day School to start seventh grade, when all he would really like is to pursue his dream of attending art school. This graphic novel portrays the first year at RAD, while his personal commentary on various events are drawn/noted along the way. Humor is a constant throughout the book with many relatable, laugh out loud moments, and a straightforward approach to serious topics.
First are the discriminatory remarks made by fellow student Andy to each character of a different cultural descent. There are microaggressions from faculty as well; for example, the teacher who calls every black student by the wrong name, and the book fair arranged by stereotyped categories. There is also the stigma attached to students who use financial aid to attend. So many important conversations can stem from the behaviors and events in this book.
The characters are written well, and I think students will connect to them. Jordan is a nice person who takes time to get to know everyone, even oddball Alexandra who always wears a sock puppet on her hand. Jordan has a way of finding classmates who are most genuine. In doing so, he ends up having a decent year, making true friends and learning to speak up for himself and his friends.
I read this story in a day, and enjoyed every moment of it.