Rummanah Aasi

Description: Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.
As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?

Review: New Kid may seem like another title about being the new kid in school, but this graphic novel is so much more. It is a candid and accessible story about race, class, microagressions, and the quest of self identity when you clearly do not fit into clean boxes.
Jordan Banks is the new kid from Washington Heights, Manhattan, a stigma and list of its own set of rules that entails so much more than getting lost on the way to homeroom at the prestigious and affluent Riverdale Academy Day School, which is located at the opposite end of Manhattan. The school may as well be in a foreign land where pink clothing is called salmon, white administrators consistently mistake a veteran African-American teacher for the football coach, and white classmates use  African-American Vernacular English to make themselves sound cool. 
  Jordan is a gifted artist and it is through his drawings we get a better understanding of his two worlds and his methods of coping with existing in the precarious in-between. I love how Craft uses the graphic novel format to its fullest extent in providing an great and wide cast of characters who each have their own struggles. I, myself, related a lot to Jordan's bizarre journey and wished I had this graphic novel when I was his age as I too had to navigate the Wonderland-like journey of race, class, and privilege as I transitioned from city life to suburbs when I was in middle school and even in high school.
Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades 4 and up.

If you like this book try: Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai, Unidentified Suburban Objects by Mike Jung
2 Responses
  1. MIcroaggressions are so important and impactful but I don't think they get addressed in fiction often enough. Glad to hear this one is good.

  2. Sounds like this is a great book to help kids who are similar situations. What a great find!

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