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Let’s Talk Graphic Novels with Jerry Craft

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Today on the podcast, I’m so excited to bring you the first writer ever to win three very important prizes in literature – the Newberry Award, The Kirkus Prize, and the Coretta Scott King Award – for a single book.

Would it surprise you to know the first person to win all of these for one amazing book is a graphic novelist?

That’s right, today we’re talking to the creator of the new Kid Series, which now includes New Kid, Class Act, and School Trip.

This is a special episode designed to be played right to this special author’s favorite audience – students. My hope is that you’ll play this episode – or a part of it – in class.

I’ve designed a sketchnotes sheet for you that students can use while they listen (make your copy here).

You can listen in to this episode below, click here to tune in on any podcast player, or read on for the full post.

Jerry Craft’s Favorite Reads as a Kid

Growing up, Jerry Craft’s favorite comics were Spiderman, Spiderman, Spiderman. From Spiderman’s own comic, The Amazing Spiderman, to The Spectacular Spiderman, and even Marvel Team-Up, where Spidey teamed up with another Marvel character in each issue, Jerry loved them all!

Spiderman’s secret-identity as a teenager/superhero was something that Jerry related to as a teenager himself. Despite getting picked on by his peers, Peter Parker was always trying to pretend to be less-than, even though he had this great power. For the first time as a young person, Jerry had found a character he could see himself in.

Where his Work Began

Drawing was always fun for Jerry. His first versions of comic drawing started when he was young.

He recalls going to the movies and then going home to draw stick-figure versions of them to send to his brother, who was stationed in Okinawa with the Marines. That became the first version of comics that he created.

As he got older, he enjoyed recreating Marvel characters. In 7th grade, he started creating his own characters.

He has always enjoyed creating fun and silly characters. This continues today in his New Kid trilogy. Jerry brings humor into the stories, even through tough topics and serious moments. Humor through difficult topics is what sets Jerry’s books apart from others.

The New Kid Trilogy

New Kid

The first book in this trilogy introduces readers to Jordan Banks, a twelve-year-old student who is the youngest and smallest in his grade. He loves to draw and wants to go to art school. His parents don’t find the same value in art as Jordan, and ultimately send him away to a private school, where he becomes The New Kid. The story shares his relatable experiences as a new kid. He navigates tricky situations related to race and socioeconomics.

Class Act

The second book in the trilogy looks at the dynamics between Jordan and his new friends at school, Liam and Drew.

School Trip

The final book in The New Kid Trilogy takes readers on a fun adventure to Paris, France with Jordan, Liam, Drew, and many of their classmates. In this story, all of the students become The New Kid (in a new country). Readers get to see what it’s like to experience a whole new culture and deal with the challenges of navigating and adapting.

Jerry’s Creative Process

Creating graphic novels doesn’t look like a cookie cutter recipe for Jerry. He never forces the process. If he’s not finding inspiration in his art, he’ll choose to work on writing, or research, or another element of the book. He allows his creativity to flow when the time is right. He doesn’t force it when it’s not working for him.

As a student who never did a lot of reading, he never viewed himself as a writer. As an adult, he finds himself enjoying both writing and artwork equally.

Even though he had always envisioned himself as an artist, the awards he has won – The Coretta Scott King Award, The Newberry, and The Kirkus Prize (among others) – have been for his writing, not his artwork.

What’s Next for Jerry?

It’s top secret! Stay tuned – there is more graphic novel goodness in the works from Jerry with new characters!

While we Wait…

Looking to expand your classroom collection of graphic novels? Here are some of Jerry Craft’s favorite graphic novels to recommend. (Of course, you know your students and community best, so please do preview texts).

  • Anything by Raina Telgemeier
  • Hey, Kiddo: A Graphic Novel by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
  • A First Time for Everything by Dan Santant
  • Aquanaut Series by Dan Santant
  • Nat Enough Series by Maria Scrivan
  • Emmie & Friends Series by Terri Libenson
  • Invisible Emmie Series by Terri Libenson
  • Swim Team: A Graphic Novel by Johnnie Christmas
  • Anything by Kwame Alexander
  • Octopus Stew by Eric Velasquez

Connect with Jerry

To learn more about Jerry Craft and his books, go to his website (jerrycraft.com), look up his books at your local library, or watch the trailers linked by QR on the Sketchnotes sheet.

Then, start creating ch

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