Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty

Greg Neri, Author, Randy DuBurke, Illustrator
G. Neri and Randy DuBurke, Lee & Low, $16.95 paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-58430-267-4
Reviewed on: 07/19/2010
Release date: 09/01/2010
Hardcover - 94 pages - 978-1-58430-266-7
Prebound-Sewn - 94 pages - 978-1-60686-939-0
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In 1994, in the Roseland neighborhood of Chicago's South Side, a 14-year-old girl named Shavon Dean was killed by a stray bullet during a gang shooting. Her killer, Robert "Yummy" Sandifer, was 11 years old. Neri recounts Yummy's three days on the run from police (and, eventually, his own gang) through the eyes of Roger, a fictional classmate of Yummy's. Roger grapples with the unanswerable questions behind Yummy's situation, with the whys and hows of a failed system, a crime-riddled neighborhood, and a neglected community. How could a smiling boy, who carried a teddy bear and got his nickname from his love of sweets, also be an arsonist, an extortionist, a murderer? Yet as Roger mulls reasons, from absentee parenting to the allure of gang membership, our picture of Yummy only becomes more obscure. Neri's straightforward, unadorned prose is the perfect complement to DuBurke's stark black-and-white inks; great slabs of shadow and masterfully rendered faces breathe real, tragic life into the players. Like Roger, in the end readers are left with troubling questions and, perhaps, one powerful answer: that they can choose to do everything in their power to ensure that no one shares Yummy's terrible fate. (Aug.)
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