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Graphic novel makes history winning prestigious Newbery Medal for first time

New Kid, about an inner-city youth who dreams of going to art school, is the first comic to win the famous children's literature prize.

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New Kid by Jerry Craft tells the story of an African-American kid who wants to be an artist. 

HarperCollins

For the first time ever, a graphic novel has been awarded the coveted the 2020 John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature, the American Library Association announced on Monday.

The graphic novel New Kid by Jerry Craft is an uplifting tale of a 12-year-old African-American boy living in New York City's Washington Heights who just wants to go to art school. But instead, his parents enroll him in a private school where he's one of the only students of color. 

"I'd love for New Kid to be a book that African-American kids proudly claim as their own, while other kids see it as a book that always embraces them without ever being condescending," Craft wrote about his comic in 2019. "And it's very important for me to make them laugh."

Here's an excerpt of New Kid by Jerry Craft.

HarperCollins

Since 1922, the Newbery award has been shining a light on the best young adult literature. The award influences teacher and librarian recommendations, and can often increase book sales.

New Kid also received the Coretta Scott King award, which celebrates African-American authors and illustrators. Comic book fans can get a closer look at New Kid with this excerpt here from its publisher HarperCollins.

Readers and book fans posted their congratulations, as well as reminders that comics count as literature worth reading on a bigger level than just entertainment.

"Incredibly excited about New Kid winning the #NewberryMedal," one fan tweeted. "This goes to show how far along graphics novels have come."

 Tweeted another, "Graphic novels aren't just 'comic books,' they are great tools to teach visual literacy. I am so excited to see New Kid recognized for the amazing book it is.