New Kid

£8.99

Jordan is dreading his new school, Riverdale Academy Day School. It is a geographic and socio-economic distance from his neighbourhood. He won’t be part of his community anymore. Furthermore at Riverdale he’ll be a minority because of his race, and his family’s income. How can Jordan hope to fit in?

We travel with Jordan in Liam’s chauffeured car on his first day. We feel apprehensive, alongside Jordan, as we consider Liam’s behaviour and then that of the other people he encounters. Why does Ms Rawle rename certain students only? What is the problem with Jordan being smaller than most members of his class? Why is Maury so isolated? What is the reason Alex talks through a sock puppet? Is there anywhere that Jordan might observe, imagine and draw in peace?

‘New Kid’ is an intelligent, empathetic, and nuanced graphic novel. It’s not just about being new, but rather other issues, such as expectation, stereotyping, belonging and finding your voice. Bookwagon is overjoyed to recommend this thought-provoking, empowering book.

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Description

New Kid

Jerry Craft

(Harper)

Jordan is the ‘New Kid’, travelling beyond his community to the school where he’s won a scholarship. It’s a big step, and one he’s not certain that he’s up to taking. Jordan draws the journey, from his parents’ ‘discussion’ about his new school’s suitability, to the reaction of his neighbourhood. Furthermore, he’s very aware that he will be in a minority at Riverdale Academy Day School. His mum reminds him that ‘This is one of the best schools in the entire state. It looks like Harvard or something.‘ Meanwhile his father observes, ‘It still doesn’t have much… you know… diversity’. How will Jordan cope?
Graphic novels have a unique way of exposing feelings as we’ve seen with books by Raina Telgemeieir such as Guts, for example. We join Jordan’s journey, from his first chauffeured car journey with Liam, through to his confrontation with Ms Rawle. Familiar situations and behaviour are observed, such as expectations about sport and income, and considerations around being ‘special’. ‘New Kid’ is timely, in light of 2020 news like ‘Independent schools decline gift of £1 million to educate poor white boys.’
I like the way the book is organised, so that we have access to Jordan’s sketches and innermost imaginings. Thereafter, we’re spectators on his every day school struggles, and then, those differences with home and neighbourhood. Where does Jordan fit best?

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