“New Kid,” by Jerry Craft (Quill Tree)
This newly minted winner of the Newbery Medal is a novel about the experiences of an African American middle-schooler, Jordan Banks, as he moves to a private school. There, Jordan is one of the few students of color, and Craft deftly uses a mix of humor and drama to detail the micro- and macro-aggressions Jordan experiences as he tries to fit in and make friends.
“El Deafo,” by Cece Bell (Abrams)
Although the characters in this book are rabbits, “El Deafo” is actually a memoir of Bell’s experiences as she tried to cope with a major childhood hearing loss. Bell said she decided to use rabbits as visual metaphor to emphasize what it was like to be the kid with ears that didn’t work. The result is a book that is a rare mix of poignant and laugh-out-loud funny.
And here are two new comics already winning accolades:
“Green Lantern: Legacy,” written by Minh Le and illustrated by Andie Tong (DC Comics)
Part of DC Comics’ new effort to reach deeper into the kids market, “Green Lantern: Legacy” tells the story of 12-year-old Tai Pham, who suddenly learns that his beloved grandmother was a Green Lantern, a member of an “intergalactic peacekeeping force.” Tai is even more stunned to learn that, upon her death, he has been called to continue her mission. Le and Tong have created a thoughtful superhero story that gets young readers thinking about friendship, the uses of power and creativity, and the importance of community.
“Go With the Flow,” written by Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann and illustrated by Williams (First Second)
Schneemann and Williams break barriers with this fictional friendship story centered on the subject of menstruation. In the book, four high school girls band together to persuade their school administration to make feminine hygiene products freely available in all of the girls’ restrooms. As they struggle against a resistant principal, the girls also find themselves testing the bounds of friendship. The book concludes with a section for readers interested in further information on a topic that sometimes is hard to discuss.
Karen MacPherson is the children’s and teen services coordinator for the Takoma Park, Md., library.