New Kid

June 1, 2021 - Diverse Books, Graphic Novel, Reviews
Author: Jeremy Craft
Publisher: Quill Tree Books
New Kid

For my book review on a graphic novel focused on human rights, I chose Jeremy Craft’s New Kid, a story that explores the impact of microaggressions on young children. I chose this novel because I myself am an early childhood education major, and I felt that this novel may help me connect what I have learned about human rights and social advocacy to the American execution system. In the graphic novel, I followed the story of a 12-year-old Black boy, Jordan Banks, as he transitions from his culturally diverse public school to an almost all-white private school. Craft did a truly phenomenal job capturing the complexity of middle school for the young African-American boy as he navigates microaggressions, stereotyping, and balancing his home culture with his school’s culture on top of the typical stress of making friends and navigating difficult coursework. I found this novel to be deeply effective in communicating the effects of microaggressions to a white audience. In the novel, Jordan Banks has a true love and talent for art, and he journals his experiences through graphic design and speech bubbles. In New Kid, you are essentially reading a personal diary in the format of a graphic novel, which in turn, grounds each experience into our reality. Jordan Banks is a kind and insightful character, and many of his struggles would be recognizable to any reader who has been through the hardships of adolescence. Everything feels real and deeply personal, which really allows Jordan Banks to communicate with his audience. He tells us that microaggressions hurt in a way he cannot explain or understand, and he tells us how it makes him feel inferior, lost, and isolated at a time in his life when he desperately seeks belonging. The use of the graphic novel allows Craft to go beyond simply giving his audience examples of microaggressions students face in school and how it may impact their learning and sense of identity. The word microaggressions is in fact never even used. The audience instead can just watch a scenario unfold, understand how Jordan feels, and then come to their own conclusions about the biases woven into each interaction. Craft uses the graphics as a catalyst for complicated issues rooted in American culture, and in this way, makes learning about human rights and social justice more accessible. This novel is for any individual 12-years-old or up and would have the same impact on all readers. New Kid teaches us that we must take the time to understand how our words and actions have major impacts in our world, and that we must self-reflect on our own personal beliefs and biases and actively work towards creating a community that celebrates all of its members.
—Anonymous, CMRD101 Spring 2021