Published by Quill Tree Books (Released October 6)
Summary: The kids from New Kid are back for their second year at Riverdale Academy Day School, a.k.a. RAD. This time, the focus is on Drew, who along with Jordan, is one of the few black kids in the school. Drew lives with his grandmother, who still works long hours to support him, and he struggles with the unfairness of his situation when he’s invited to Liam’s house. Liam, who is white, lives in a mansion with servants, a pool, and a stay-at-home mother. When Drew starts hanging out with some older black RAD students, his friends have trouble understanding. Ultimately, though, he’s drawn back to his original group, and finds a way to get past his pain and mend his friendship with Liam. A visit from Liam to both Jordan’s and Drew’s neighborhoods highlights the warm community that is somewhat lacking in Liam’s life. While the focus is on Drew, the story begins and ends with Jordan, who concludes that life is a lot of things, but perfect is not one of them. And it’s time to draw some comics. 256 pages; grades 3-8.
Pros: Just when I was ready to give up on 2020, I discovered an upcoming sequel to New Kid, and was able to snag an advance reader copy. I am happy to report that it is every bit as good as the Newbery Medal-winning first book. Appropriate to the new eighth graders, this book deals with slightly more mature themes, and the questions about race and racism are for the most part left as questions–no easy answers. Let’s hope we get to follow Drew, Jordan, and the rest of the group all the way through high school.
Cons: No easy answers is right, as I found myself feeling frustrated at how difficult it is for Jordan and Drew to find their places at RAD.