cover image Weirdo


Tony Weaver Jr., illus. by Jes and Cin Wibowo. First Second, $22.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-77286-2; $14.99 paper ISBN 978-1-2507-7287-9

A Black 11-year-old faces a gauntlet of obstacles in debut author Weaver’s uplifting graphic novel memoir, which examines issues surrounding the pressures of fitting in, mental health, and suicide. Tony Weaver Jr. has “been the new kid so many times it doesn’t feel new anymore,” a fact that buoys him as he starts at yet another new school. But he’s bullied by other students for bringing toys to class and by Black peers for his demeanor (“You think he asked to get put in the Oreo section?”). Everything is made worse by his grief over his late grandmother. Shifting color palettes convey the effects of these experiences—richly colored drawings by the Wibowos (Lunar Boy), embellished with superhero comic emanata, fade to b&w as Weaver’s loneliness deepens. Illustrations eventually move back to vibrant hues as Weaver begins to heal following a suicide attempt, an event that leads his parents to send him to a psychologist and another new, predominantly Black school, where he befriends like-minded “weirdos.” It all culminates in a touching story of belonging, in which Weaver realistically depicts the many small steps required to becoming one’s own hero. Ages 10–14. (Sept.)