Jerry Craft is the New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of the graphic novel New Kid (Quill Tree Books). In 2019 New Kid became the first graphic novel to win the Kirkus Prize in the “Young Readers’ Literature” category. A few months later, it won the 2020 John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature. It is the first graphic novel in the Newbery’s nearly 100 year history to receive the award. Craft is only the fifth African American author to land the coveted prize. On the same day, New Kid was also awarded the Coretta Scott King award for an outstanding work by an African American writer. Craft is the second person to have simultaneously won both awards in the same year. Craft’s companion novel to New Kid, Class Act (Quill Tree Books), will publish in October 2020.
Craft is the creator of Mama’s Boyz, an award-winning comic strip which won the African American Literary Award five times. He is also the illustrator for the middle grade novel The Zero Degree Zombie Zone and the middle grade prose novel, The Offenders: Saving the World While Serving Detention!, which he co-wrote with his two sons.
From the journey to becoming a published author to bringing his beloved characters to life, Craft inspires audiences of all ages with his interactive and dynamic presentations and drawing demonstrations.
Craft was born in Harlem and grew up in nearby Washington Heights. He is a graduate of The Fieldston School and received his B.F.A. from the School of Visual Arts. Craft is a co-founder and co-producer of the Schomburg’s Annual Black Comic Book Festival. Currently, he lives in Connecticut.
Praise for Jerry Craft:
"Jerry was delightful! The whole interview was so fabulous that CXC actually extended our time slot so that we could include more material from our recording. Jerry was personable, warm, and set-up for success! He had his drawing tools ready to go to show his process. He had photos from when he was younger to share with everyone. He also took each kid and teen’s question seriously and did his best to respond, even if they were a little out of left field."
--Sarah Wright, Youth Services Manager Children’s Division, Columbus Metropolitan Library
"My 5 year old son, who has mild cerebral palsy on his left side, was truly moved by Mr. Craft’s infectious positivity and power to never give up. Towards the end of the session, he sat down to draw while the rest of us were still watching and listening. What resulted was, by far, his best drawing of a person yet! Obviously he was very inspired by Mr. Craft! Thank you all so much for offering the awesome webinar with Jerry Craft!"
--Shara, Oakland County, Michigan
“Jerry’s program was an absolute blast! I had a wide range of ages from 4th grade through juniors in high school and they all had an equally fun time. Jerry is very skilled in quickly building a rapport with the students that allows them to try drawing without judgment. He’s hilarious and knows how to interact with teenagers very well and he breaks down the drawing step-by-step so participants of any level can succeed. I highly recommend Jerry Craft’s program, and I hope to have him back at my library soon!
-- Katie F, Scranton Memorial Library
“As a program specialist at a nonprofit that works with public elementary schools in Washington, D.C., Jerry Craft was a great resource to our family literacy events. Our guest author programs are always a favorite of our families and having a comic book illustrator like Jerry speak to children and their parents was a real treat for everyone. Jerry visited Garfield Elementary in Southeast D.C. last fall and shared his stories, sketches, and quotes from Mama’s Boyz, which the kids absolutely loved. Not only did Jerry’s stories entertain the children, but his patience in showing them how they could draw their own comic book characters inspired them to believe that they could be artists, too. We got such positive feedback from our families that we have decided to invite him back to visit another elementary school this Spring.”
-- Laura S, Program Specialist
“When Jerry Craft conducted a workshop at the Boys & Girls Club of Stamford, he not only wowed the children, but adults were instantly drawn to his easy display of drawing techniques; it was obvious that all those in attendance enjoyed his presentation, stories and sketches. Mr. Craft your message of self love was very inspiring! Thank you for the drawing lessons and thank you for signing our sketches…I still have mine!”
--Jenice J, President, The Boys & Girls Club of Stamford Parent Association
“Thank you for a fabulous program. This is such a hard age group (11-17) to reach at the library and the kids were enthralled. What an amazing percentage of boys in attendance too! We can’t wait to have you back!”
-- Sascha G, Children’s Librarian, Hagaman Memorial Library
“Jerry plays well with kids and grown-ups! At Read Out Loud!, our family literacy event, Jerry led a comic book drawing workshop that was packed with very engaged youngsters. Not only does he inspire young artists and writers by sharing and educating, but Jerry is a super person to work with on the grown-up level. He makes good things happen. The success Read Out Loud! was due much in part his ideas, people, and go-getter attitude.
-- Christine P, School-Community Coordinator, Morningside Area Alliance
The Oceanside Library was honored to host Jerry Craft as the Spotlight Author for our Virtual celebration of OceanCon in October. Jerry spoke about his process in writing New Kid and his new publication, Class Act. He demonstrated to Children and Adults alike how creativity and perseverance plays a huge role in writing and illustration. He is paving the way for authors in Graphic Novel publishing and showing our young audience that reading can be fun and educational. We thank Jerry Craft for a wonderful evening!
-- Barbara Mickowski, Teen Librarian, Oceanside Library
Praise for New Kid:
“Funny, sharp, and totally real! Jordan Banks is the kid everyone will be talking about!”
--Jeff Kinney, Author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid
"This story captures the tensions that come with being a person of color in a traditionally white space."
“An engrossing, humorous, and vitally important graphic novel that should be required reading in every middle school in America.”
--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Genuine characters propel this funny, warm, biting, fearless story. Entertaining and insightful, it will surely offer affirmation for some readers, revelation for others.”
--Cooperative Children’s Book Center
“Award-winning author/illustrator Jerry Craft confronts elitism, microaggression, racism, socioeconomic disparity and white privilege in a familiar setting. His preteen audiences will undoubtedly recognize and empathize with Craft’s memorable cast.”
--Shelf Awareness, (starred review)
“Craft’s full-color comics art is dynamic and expressive. This school story stands out as a robust, contemporary depiction of a preteen navigating sometimes hostile spaces yet staying true to himself thanks to friends, family, and art.”
--Horn Book Magazine
“This beautifully crafted work captures ‘tween angst, recognizes everyday and systemic injustice, and challenges everyone to do better by every kid."
--The San Francisco Chronicle
“This is more than a story about being the new kid—it’s a complex examination of the micro- and macroaggressions that Jordan endures from classmates and teachers. Highly recommended for all middle grade shelves.”
--School Library Journal (starred review)
“An honest and compelling read for any kid looking for a place to belong.”
--Scholastic Teacher Magazine
“This engaging story offers an authentic secondary cast and captures the high jinks of middle schoolers and the tensions that come with being a person of color in a traditionally white space.”
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“New Kid is at once tender and tough, funny and heartbreaking. Hand this to the middle-grade reader in your life right away.”
--The New York Times Book Review
“Possibly one of the most important graphic novels of the year.”
--Booklist (starred review)
Praise for Class Act:
“A well-Crafted, visually rich, truth-telling tale for our troubled times that affirms the eternal importance of friends.”
--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)