A photo of Becky the librarian for Hussey-Mayfield Memorial Public Library


by Becky Stuck, Youth Services Librarian

New Kid by Jerry Craft – winner of the 2020 John Newbery Medal winner for most outstanding contribution to children’s literature.

New Kid is the very first graphic novel to WIN the Newbery Award!  A couple of other wonderful graphic novels have been named Newbery honor books, but this is the first year one has taken the big prize home.  New Kid was also named this year’s Coretta Scott King Award author winner.  This award is given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.

Jordan Banks is a black middle school student who has just started as the new kid at a private school called Riverdale Academy Day School, a place with not a whole lot of diversity. Jordan is incredibly artistic, loves to draw and truly wishes he could go to art school, but his parents want to make sure he gets a great education and feel Riverdale is the best choice for him.  As the new kid in a predominantly white school, Jordan not only must undertake the typical challenges and changes middle school throws at kids, he also must deal with racial micro-aggressions and stereotypes directed at him by not just some of the students, but a few of the teachers as well.  Don’t worry, not everyone is a bad egg!  Jordan develops some solid, and maybe unexpected friendships.  Jordan writes and doodles his thoughts, feelings, interactions and observations in his sketchbook, presented as humorous, witty interludes throughout story– such as a cafeteria hierarchy and judging kids by book covers.  Pop culture references abound (Hunger Games, Captain America, Straight Outta Compton and more), while upbeat, hilarious text, full color illustrations and cleverly titled chapters keep the reader super engaged in Jordan’s day to day experiences.

Grown ups, don’t be put off by the graphic novel style!  This book takes on tough real life topics presented in an approachable way that kids can easily relate to.  New Kid is a funny story about serious, timely stuff – a must read per this librarian! 🙂


An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in America. – Kirkus Reviews

Kirkus also awarded Craft’s New Kid the Kirkus Best Books Prize for Middle Grade fiction.

This school story stands out as a robust, contemporary depiction of a preteen navigating sometimes hostile spaces yet staying true to himself thanks to friends, family, and art. – Horn Book