“Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.
As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?”
-Synopsis from Goodreads
Jordan Banks is struggling to fit in at his new school, and being “the new kid” is something we can all relate to, but in this case there are some important layers to Jordan’s story.
Part of his struggle with adjusting to Riverdale Academy Day School is that he is one of only a handful of minority students. The school is made up of predominantly white, wealthy students. There is widespread racist and classist behavior by other students, and even some teachers, that Jordan has to navigate. Some of it is new to him, and some of it he has experienced before, which causes immense frustration.
He befriends some of the boys in his class and discovers that they can relate to one another in many ways. Jordan also learns that other people feel different sometimes, too, and that everyone has their own insecurities. Jordan and his friend Drew manage to stand up to other students, and even a teacher, forcing them to recognize their racist behavior. Throughout the book, Jordan proves to be a great role model for readers because of his thoughtfulness, integrity, perseverance and positive attitude.
In addition to the story itself, I especially loved the illustrations in this book. There is a great mix of color panels, and black-and-white panels, along with pages made to look like Jordan himself drew them. The dialogue is witty and clever and each character has a unique look. I honestly think these were some of the better illustrations of most of the middle grade graphic novels I have read this year.
As I was reading this book, all I could think is that this is such an important story to tell! Readers of all ages will enjoy it, and I think it would be a great conversation starter especially for younger middle grade readers.