Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Entertainer and debut creator Crews and illustrator Thomas (Epic Athletes: Alex Morgan) craft an upbeat graphic novel that draws inspiration from Crews's childhood, as detailed in an author's note. Terry, portrayed with brown skin and an infectious grin, is the newest freshman at Rock City Academy, an elite, predominantly white private school. He believes that the new school is his ticket to realizing his big plans: he wants to become a multihyphenate by excelling in science, art, and sports. But his guidance counselor Mr. Montgomery disregards Terry's myriad passions, and by way of reductive racial stereotypes, tries persuading him to focus on sports ("This isn't the world someone like you belongs in," the counselor says about art; "lots of kids like you in the NFL"). Discouraged, Terry withdraws and starts hanging out with a popular athlete who encourages bullying, and he struggles to keep his dreams alive while navigating high school social politics. Using simple but effective facial expressions and gentle swathes of color, Thomas compassionately depicts Terry's trials and triumphs. Through the protagonist's refusal to dream smaller, Crews tells a familiar and affecting story of one kid's determination to find his place in the world. Ages 8--12. Agent: Albert Lee, United Talent Agency. (Nov.)
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
Former NFL player Crews draws inspiration from his early years for this graphic novel about a Black boy attending a new school in a different neighborhood. Terry, who dreams of moving out of his working-class neighborhood and making it big, is excited for his first day at the prestigious Rock City Academy, where he'll be able to pursue his passion for art (which he balances with a love of sports). At first, Terry loves the school, but a week later, he feels out of place and begins to have doubts, though the chance to participate in an upcoming talent show buoys him. Rick, a popular student, offers to let Terry join his team for the show, but first Terry must bully Xander, another student. Terry does, but he instantly has regrets, and eventually he, Xander, and Terry's class guide, Rani, form their own team for the talent show. Though the three are different, as they work together, they become closer. But when Terry's grades begin to suffer, his mother wants him to stop working on the show. However, with the support of friends and family, Terry finds a solution. This story is thematically similar to Jerry Craft's New Kid (2019) but is simpler and presented with less polish. Still, the friendships and family interactions are realistic, and the colorful drawings pair well with a story where art is a major component. Rani and Rick are brown-skinned, Xander presents White, and characters in both Terry's school and neighborhood are diverse. A worthwhile read, especially for kids with grand aspirations of their own. (Graphic novel. 8-12) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.