When school gets real, you can still show the world you're a... Class Act! New Kid by Jerry Craft, the first graphic novel to win the Newbery Medal, is now joined by its powerful companion piece, Class Act.
The gang is back together and ready for second form...kind of. Now as eighth graders, Jordan, Drew, and Liam join their friends for a new year at Riverdale Academy Day School. This year we continue to view Jordan’s perspective on life at RAD but also get to follow his good friend, Drew, on his journey as he navigates racial disparities in school and his daily life.
Class Act continues to explore the topics of race, elitism, disparities in socioeconomics and white privilege through a mixture of serious issues, like being pulled over by the police, with lighter moments typical of being in middle school. The topic of colorism is also examined more intentionally with clear examples of differences in the way Jordan and Drew are treated. The exploration of these topics goes deeper and are more obvious than they are in New Kid, but are still written in a way that its young audience can understand and relate to.
This year Drew struggles greatly with letting himself be himself within the walls of the white and privileged. He is able to get a glimpse of the life of the privileged at his school after visiting his friend Liam’s house. Liam has never treated Drew as anything other than equal and a friend but the disparities in the way Drew lives and the lifestyle of Liam and his family causes Drew to put a wedge in their friendship. Drew feels more lost than ever.
Jordan’s perspective is focused more on his experiences as a light-skinned Black boy verses Drew’s often drastically different experience being a darker skinned Black boy.
Drew and Jordan both still endure micro and macroaggressions from both his classmates and faculty. However, this year (just like in our actual 2020-2021), EDI or Equity, Diversity and Inclusion is trending. The school’s administration recognizes that there needs to be a greater attempt to address the racial divide within their school. Their way of handling it though may be a bigger problem than solution.
How will the friendship between this middle-class light skin, working-class dark skin and rich white boy turn out? Can they all find a mutual understanding and respect for one another? Class Act shows that despite their age, kids can learn to handle tough issues while staying classy!
Jerry Craft, author, illustrator
New York, NY : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers,  Formats: Book, eAudiobook, eBook
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?
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