School Trip by Jerry Craft

Published by Quill Tree Books

Summary:  Jordan Banks and his friends (and frenemies) from New Kid and Class Act are back for their last hurrah before finishing up at Riverdale Academy Day School (a.k.a. RAD).  The whole eighth grade gets to choose from a variety of trips including Yellowstone, Alaska, Mississippi, and, for Jordan, Paris.  He’s happy to be in a group with friends like Drew, Liam, and Alexandra, less thrilled with the inclusion of class bully Andy.  As the group experiences adventures and mishaps in France, they get to review some of what they’ve learned about friendship, bullying, and other relationship issues during their time in middle school.  Jordan has a big decision weighing on him, having gotten into an art school for high school and trying to decide if he wants to transfer or stay at RAD.  Back home, he finally figures out what he wants to do (“helped”, as always, by his mother), and it seems as though the story may be continued, or this could be the final installment.  256 pages; grades 4-8.

Pros:  Jordan Banks fans will be thrilled with a new book about RAD, and the chance to get off-campus leads to plenty of humor and also many thoughtful conversations on a wide range of relevant topics that will make this a great jumping-off place for class or book club discussions.

Cons:  One of my favorite things about New Kid was how deftly Jerry Craft wove discussions of racism and other social justice topics into a funny school story with lots of fun and interesting characters.  While I still love the messages being imparted, in this installment, they sometimes felt a bit more heavy-handed.

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