Middle Grade Review: Class Act

Class Act by Jerry Craft

Series: New Kid
Genres: Graphic Novel, Middle Grade
Maturity Level: 3 (for mature themes like police violence)
View on Goodreads
Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆

Eighth grader Drew Ellis is no stranger to the saying “You have to work twice as hard to be just as good.” His grandmother has reminded him his entire life. But what if he works ten times as hard and still isn’t afforded the same opportunities that his privileged classmates at the Riverdale Academy Day School take for granted?

To make matters worse, Drew begins to feel as if his good friend Liam might be one of those privileged kids. He wants to pretend like everything is fine, but it’s hard not to withdraw, and even their mutual friend Jordan doesn’t know how to keep the group together.

As the pressures mount, will Drew find a way to bridge the divide so he and his friends can truly accept each other? And most important, will he finally be able to accept himself?


Wow. I will literally pick up anything by Jerry Craft at this point. This book was just SO OUTSTANDING, I devoured it in an hour. While you don’t have to have read New Kid first, this book (especially the beginning) will make a lot more sense if you do, plus New Kid is amazing, so there’s that.

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Top 10 Middle-Grade Books of 2020

As I started my career as an elementary school librarian, I had access to almost any middle grade book I could wish to read, as well as a good reason to prioritize middle grade literature. And y’all, I’m so glad I did. I’ve fallen in love with MG books all over again, and I like them SO MUCH MORE than I ever liked YA. Which is saying something, because I read and enjoy plenty of YA.

I can’t begin to express to you how poorly this list represents some of the AMAZING MG books I’ve read this year. Narrowing it down to ten was easy in June, when I started this list, but as I went through the year and watched book after book get knocked off, I fully appreciated just how wonderful the MG literature being written right now really is.

So for those of you with kids or who want to dive back in to MG literature, here are my Top 10 of 2020.

Please note that this is books I personally read in 2020, NOT books published in 2020.

1. Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

The writing is so lovely, the characters fully realized, and the story so full of hope. Maybe my favorite MG book ever.

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Middle Grade Review: New Kid

New Kid by Jerry Craft

Series: New Kid
Genres: Graphic Novel, Middle Grade

Maturity Level: 2
View on Goodreads
Rating:
⋆⋆⋆⋆⋆

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? 


I loved this graphic novel! The art, the story, the characterization, the subtltly, everything was so spot-on! I would put this up there as an all-time favorite with El Deafo and Pashmina. A must-read for middle-graders!

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