Book: Class Act (2020)
Author: Jerry Craft
Genre: MG, Graphic Novel
Companion to: New Kid
Basic plot: Drew is in eighth grade this year. He’s got new hair and even a girlfriend. But he’s having trouble figuring out where he fits in. There’s his friends, Jordan and Liam. But after a visit to Liam’s amazing house, he’s not sure if he and Liam are really cut out to be friends. He definitely doesn’t think he can invite Liam to his own home. I mean, what would happen if his friends saw the little apartment he lives in with his grandmother? He’s not sure he’s ready to find out.
WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK…
1) While the first book was Jordan’s book, this one features Drew. Jordan and Liam are definitely part of Drew’s world, but the POV really focused on Drew this time. Drew and his new hair! I enjoyed seeing his perspective, especially over his uncertainty about where he belongs. (The ending works well, IMHO.)
2) One of my favourite scenes is when the kids go to Jordan’s house. I love this family! Loved seeing them in action, including as they interact with Jordan’s neighbourhood friends. It was a nice break from the school scenes.
3) I love it when the kids are at the assembly and the movie comes on: “Sad-Faced Pictures Presents: The Mean Streets of South Uptown.” This is a little nod to the first book (New Kid) that explores the idea that the Black experience is often summed up or portrayed in only one light: street life, gangs, trouble. What I love about THIS book is that we get to meet kids (two of them Black) who are living a different experience… even though that life isn’t always easy. I taught kids like Jordan and Drew. I would have loved to have put these books (New Kid and Class Act) into their hands.
4) There are some nice running jokes. One is about body odor (especially with regards to sweet-smelling Jordan)! And I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I thought it was nicely done! (Although, I’m glad I didn’t have to actually smell it…) And the joke about everybody thinking Mr. Pierre was Liam’s dad (because he came to all his games) was a nice (if slightly sad) touch.
5) I love the journey Drew goes on, especially with regards to Liam… (SPOILER) to realize that maybe Liam isn’t his parents. Another great scene is when Drew finally invites Liam over to his house to meet his grandmother. And then they look out and admire the view. (End Spoiler)
6) Best Comic: “I Lost the Bet: Written by Chuck Banks (Dad) and art by Jordan Banks” wherein Dad explains that kids today are weirder than kids in his day… especially when it comes to social media. (But I’m biased since I’m probably Dad’s age!)
THINGS THAT BOTHERED ME…
1) Alexandra and the nose thing! Argh! The book makes such a big deal about people touching Drew’s hair, but not so with Alexandra???
2) The title. I thought with a title like Class Act that it’d be about a talent show or theatre. Nope. And the juggling is just metaphorical!
A good sequel to the Newbery Winner, New Kid! Definitely recommend this one. 🙂
Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday…