Class Act

HarperCollins/Quill Tree. Oct. 2020. 256p. Tr $22.99. ISBN 9780062885517; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9780062885500.
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.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing