'Great Graphic Wednesday' is a weekly blog posting. Check here every Wednesday for reviews of recommended graphic novels, by members of the Tinlids Graphic Novel Book Club.
Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty Written By G. Neri, Illustrated by Randy DuBurke
DETAILS: Reads left to right. Paperback ISBN 9781584302674 $19.95
SUMMARY (from book flap): Eleven-year-old Roger is trying to make sense of his classmate Robert “Yummy” Sandifer’s death, but first he has to make sense of Yummy’s life. Yummy could be as tough as a pit bull sometimes. Other times he as sweet as the sugary treats he loved to eat. Was Yummy some sort of monster, or just another kid?
As Roger searches for the truth, he finds more and more questions. How did Yummy end up in so much trouble? Did he really kill someone? And why do all the answers seem to lead back to a gang- the same gang Roger’s older brother belongs to?
Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty is a compelling dramatization based on the events that occurred in Chicago in 1994. This gritty exploration of youth gang life will force readers to question their own understandings of good and bad, right and wrong.
REVIEW: There’s not much more to add to the book’s own summary of the events of the story. This is one graphic novel that sends chills down the reader’s back as they learn about the events that lead to the tragic end of Yummy. The illustrator chose to use only black ink- almost as a way for the reader to discover that even though it’s in black and white, which this story is far from black and white. Every page makes the reader question Yummy’s motives and intentions- sometimes your heart breaking and sometimes, your heart singing, at the realization that Yummy is like every other kid in the world- sweet and with a sweet tooth. But, your heart will ache more than sing, and the story is powerful. So powerful, that this is a graphic novel that children will want to talk about the issues at hand. With peers and adults. The hardest part of it all is the fact that this is based on a true story. Maybe this will be the book that will inspire adults and children, to create a better world for our youth.
Some readers may question the American content, as the story takes place in Chicago but I think the messages and questions that arise from this reading will encourage conversations that are universal: gangs, urban environments, society, and culture. These are topics that most middle school and high school students want and need to talk about. This graphic novel could be the right book to get the conversation started.
Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty is recommended for middle school readers and older. The content is based on some violent and destructive events (shootings, torching of cars). However, as a reader, I didn’t feel as if it glamorized the gang life. If anything, it makes the reader question why that type of life is glamorized in movies, television, books, and music.
Fatma Faraj is a teacher-librarian at Royal Orchard Middle School in Brampton.
Order Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty from www.tinlids.ca today!