Saturday, April 20, 2024


Todd, Jonathan. Timid
April 2, 2024 by Graphix
E ARC Provided by Edelweiss Plus

In 1988, Cecil's family moves from Florida to Boston for his father's work. He's apprehensive, especially since he attended a small, private church school at his old home. The family, which includes his mother and sister Leah, has friends in the area, and stays with them before finding their own home. They settle in fairly well. They find a church home, and Cecil finds friends in Chris, who is somewhat jerky, and Ruthie, who is also religious. Leah suggests that Cecil befriend more of the Black kids in school, but this doesn't go very well. Cecil is worried about being an "Oreo", a Black person who "acts white", but finds it difficult to connect to the Black community at his school. He does better with other artists, since he loves to draw. He makes some charicatures of people and tries to get people to like him through his art, for which he was known in his previous school. This occasionally backfires, and he also has a problem with Ruthie, who calls him "Fuzzy" and rubs his head. She eventually apologizes. Will Cecil be able to embrace his art and find people with whom he can connect in his new environment?
Strengths: While I am patiently waiting for Robb Armstrong to write a Big Nate style novel about Jojo Cobb, I've been looking for graphic or notebook novels with Black, male characters. There are not too many, so I'm glad to see this one. Like many graphic novels, it's memoir-esque and set in a historical time period. The illustration style is innovative and very simple, and the parts that I've seen in color have an interesting tan, turquoise, and muted electric blue palette which did add to the retro feel. 
Weaknesses: To show the 80s setting, more pastels or bright primary colors should have been employed; think United Colors of Benetton or Swatches. I would have appreciated a plot in addition to the moving and fitting in, but my students won't necessarily care. 
What I really think: Clearly, Craft's New Kid has done very well, but this has not lead to an increase in graphic novels with Black, male protagonists. I would also still like to see more graphic novels about football and basketball; my quiet, artistic students are not necessarily the one who gravitate the most towards the graphic novel format. It's the sports kids. Buy this for fans of Robinson, Mansbach and Knight's Jake the Fake, Rodriguez and Bell's Doodles from the Boogie Down, or Grimes' and Taylor's Garvey's Choice

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