Class Act by Jerry Craft

Class Act by Jerry Craft. Quill Tree Books, 2020. 9780062885517

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Genre:  Realistic fiction

What did you like about the book? Drew is one of a just a handful of Black students at the fancy Riverdale Academy Day School. He loves school and gets great grades, but sometimes he feels isolated by differences in privilege and lack of race awareness. His pal Jordan (the main character in Craft’s previous book New Kid) gets it, but other pals don’t. The way that Craft inserts Drew and Jordan’s experience of daily micro-aggression is a great strength of the book. When Drew and Jordan spend the weekend at the home of their friend Liam, Drew feels overwhelmed with the difference in lifestyle: whereas Drew lives with his grandma in a small apartment, Liam lives in a gigantic mansion with a maid, chauffer and parents who are out of touch with Liam and each other. It is Jordan who has a genius idea which allows the friends to honor each other’s lives and mend their friendship.

Kids who loved New Kid will be happy to see the same characters, just with the focus on a different person. The turmoil of middle school relationships is on the hot-seat here, along with race, class and figuring out how to be yourself. Craft intersperses black and white comics drawn by Jordan throughout, and chapter headings are fun parodies of other middle grade book covers, such as “Diary of a Shrimpy Kid,” “Omelet,” and “Nay Kiddo.” I loved this book – especially how the boys figured out how to mend their own complicated rift.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book?  For fans of realistic middle grade fiction and graphic novels, ages 8-13, especially fans of New Kid.

Who should buy this book? Elementary and middle school and public libraries – an essential purchase.

Where would you shelve it ? Graphic novels

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: February 10, 2021

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