‘New Kid’ wins the Newbery Medal

Several graphic novels were honored at the American Library Association’s annual Youth Media Awards.

The American Library Association recognized several graphic novels this past weekend as part of the 2020 Youth Media Awards at their Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia. These included the prestigious Newbery Medal, which has been given out since 1922 to “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children;” the Coretta Scott King Book Award; and many others.

The winner of this year’s Newbery Medal was New Kid, the graphic novel by Jerry Craft that was published by HarperCollins Children’s Books. It also won the Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award. It’s interesting to note that these aren’t in a “graphic novel” category or anything like that; The Newbery Medal is the highest honor the ALA gives out every year, and this is the first time a graphic novel has won it outright.

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Smash Pages Q&A: Jerry Craft’s ‘New Kid’

The creator of ‘Mama’s Boyz’ talks about his new graphic novel, which just arrived in stores this month.

Jerry Craft has been working as a cartoonist for decades and is best known for his long running comic strip Mama’s Boyz, which he ended late last year. He co-wrote and illustrated the middle grade novel The Offenders, and illustrated numerous books including The Zero Degree Zombie Zone and Khalil’s Way. Craft is also a co-founder of the Black Comic Book Festival at the Schomburg Center, which held its fifth annual show last month. His new book is New Kid, which was just released by Harper Collins.

The semi-autobiographical book tells the story of Jordan, who is the new kid attending an elite private school. The book has a lot of dramatic moments, and as I spoke with Craft I mentioned how many moments resonated with me, but the book is also an incredibly funny and visually inventive story. The way that Craft is able to make the story dramatic and comedic and visually inventive is not surprising to anyone who had read Mama’s Boyz, but the way that the story of Jordan and his friends and family come together make this arguably his best work to date.

We spoke recently while he was in an airport to talk about the book.

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