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New Kid

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
New Kid Book Poster Image
Funny, heartfelt middle school tale explores race, class.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Reflects concerns of many students as they make the transition to middle school. Offers opportunity to discuss issues of race and class.

Positive Messages

Kids should be able to pursue their interests in sports, the arts without being made uncomfortable. Students of all different backgrounds can find common interests.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Seventh-grader Jordan Banks loves to draw but is sent to private school that emphasizes academics. Over course of a year, he learns to accept his classmates' foibles, develops his own method of navigating the school culture.

Violence & Scariness

Two students engage in mild pushing match.

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Jerry Craft's New Kid is a graphic novel that chronicles the year-long adjustment of an African American boy from Washington Heights to seventh grade at a private, predominantly white middle school at the opposite end of Manhattan, in the Bronx. Cartoonist Jerry Craft illustrates what it's like to be not just the new kid, but also one of the few students of color at a private school. 

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What's the story?

At the start of NEW KID, Jordan Banks reluctantly transfers to a nearly all-white private school. He misses his friends from the neighborhood and doesn't understand his new classmates. Interested in cartooning, he isn't ready for soccer in the freezing cold, and his parents can't afford a vacation to warmer climes. Gradually, he makes new friends, comes to understand his classmates' quirks, and develops his own passions.

Is it any good?

The move to middle school confuses many students and has inspired many comics, but this funny and heartfelt graphic novel covers new territory. Throughout New Kid, seventh-grader Jordan Banks proves to be a sensitive and likable protagonist, eager for friendship but unsure how to fit in a school culture that deals awkwardly with issues of race and class.

Author-illustrator Jerry Craft has a vibrant, exuberant style that distinguishes each character and captures the mood of each scene. Middle schoolers will enjoy the sometimes goofy humor and identify with a good-hearted main character struggling to define himself in a new environment.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how New Kid uses the medium of comics to tell its story. What can comics do that text alone can't? 

  • Why do so many students find the transition to middle school difficult? What kinds of changes happen between sixth and seventh grade?

  • How can you maintain a friendship with someone after they transfer to another school?

Book details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love graphic novels and middle school stories

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