cover image The New Kid

The New Kid

Mavis Jukes. Knopf, $14.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-375-85879-6

Jukes puts a lightheartedly realistic spin on the experience of being new in school. A job opportunity for Carson’s single father means a midyear move from Pasadena to Northern California. Carson’s new public school is dramatically different from his old Montessori one, but never threateningly so; friendly classmates and encouraging teachers quickly emerge. With his ninth birthday approaching, however, the problem of celebrating without his beloved grandparents and old friends looms large. Jukes (Smoke) warmly depicts the deep affection between Carson and his father, who adopted him as a baby, though the constant repartee between father and son can grow tiresome, as do the uncontrollable antics of Weston, the class troublemaker. Carson’s levelheaded thoughts and commendable struggles to handle his conflicting emotions help ground the story, and his love of animals—both living and stuffed—is an appealing motif that many readers will embrace. The book exudes the relentless, exhausting energy of an elementary-school classroom; the daily dramas of being almost nine and facing the challenges of a new environment are presented with credible weight and reassuring humor. Ages 8–12. (Dec.)