Author: Craft, Jerry
Jordan, Drew, and Liam are newly minted eighth graders, ready for another year of navigating friendships and awkward situations at their posh, racially homogeneous school, Riverdale Academy. Drew, in particular, who is no stranger to the life lesson that when you're black, "you have to work twice as hard to be just as good." Everyone at Riverdale, except for his best friends, expects a lot from him. Too much maybe. In graphic novel format.
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|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 2.80
Points: 2.0 Quiz: 509058
Kirkus Reviews (+) (08/15/20)
School Library Journal (+) (10/01/20)
Booklist (+) (09/01/20)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (+) (00/10/20)
The Hornbook (+) (00/11/20)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 09/01/2020 *Starred Review* This follow-up to the accessible and profoundly necessary New Kid (it didn’t win the Newbery Medal and a Coretta Scott King Book Award for nothing), puts the focus on Drew, Jordan’s friend and fellow Black student at their upper-crust, mostly white private school in New York. The two are now in their second year, and the racial issues are still complicated, but Class Act also widens its examination of difference. Physically, the slow-to-develop Jordan experiences classmates growing taller, starting to smell different, and forming new relationships with the other genders. Economically, children from a struggling school visit the expansive private campus and are astonished and disturbed, and the boys’ visit to wealthy Liam’s mansion and apparently carefree life triggers hard realizations. Drew, darker-skinned than Jordan, faces a different set of expectations and assumptions from white classmates and faculty, as well as the resentment of lifelong friends in his neighborhood. It’s a tribute to Craft’s skill and his deep humanity that both Drew and Liam, who face very different struggles, use those struggles to widen and deepen their respective perspectives. Never relying on platitudes, Craft makes the story honest and believable and presents it as a powerful, if difficult to achieve, real-world possibility. The miracle, once again, is that he not only captures anguish but also finds hilarity, aided considerably by his affable art, filled with visual puns and asides. Another work of resounding understanding and empathy.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Fresh off his 2020 Newbery win, Craft is one of the hottest names in children's comics, and this follow-up to the sensational New Kid is going to be even hotter. Stock up. - Copyright 2020 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 10/01/2020 Gr 4–8—Picking up where New Kid left off, this sequel finds Jordan starting another riotous, discomfiting year at Riverdale Academy Day School and pondering his future. For now, he has time to burn alongside best friends Drew and Liam. An initial sequence following the three boys' daily commutes encapsulates conflicts to come. Lighter-skinned Black, middle-class Jordan eats breakfast with his loving parents before his father drives him to school from Manhattan. Drew, who is also Black yet darker-skinned and working-class and whose doting grandmother is already at work when he leaves for school, catches two buses from Co-op City. Live-in staff attend to white, wealthy Liam while his parents, entrenched in cold war at opposite ends of the table, ignore their three children. Craft hereafter toggles among these points of view but focuses on Drew, who must work "twice as hard to go half as far." Once again, the author/illustrator's full-color panels captivate, drawing on comics' capacity for visual metaphor and hyperbole to deliver heavy payloads. He relies on Jordan's cartoons—rendered in simple, black-and-white linework—to pause the narrative and deliver incisive, bite-size observations on race, socioeconomic status, burgeoning individuality, and pubescent perils. (Lest the subject matter seem overwhelming, be it known that the book is hilarious—see, for instance, the interstitial title pages parodying popular graphic novel covers.) In time, the growing boys—unlike their school, which has no clue how to address institutional inequities and simmering tensions—initiate the painful but necessary work required to truly see and support one another. VERDICT Lightning strikes twice as Craft again produces a funny and appealing yet sensitive and nuanced middle grade tale of inequity and microaggressions.—Steven Thompson, Bound Brook Memorial P.L., NJ - Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.