Graphic Novel Review 346/365: Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty

Please keep up with all of my old Graphic Novel Reviews here as I quest for 365 in 365 days! Or search #365GN on Twitter.

Hey, all!  I have some cool things coming your way in June, so make sure that you are checking back every day.  I appreciate you for reading.

I’m writing my first non-guest blog review in over a week.  I’ve been, and at the time of writing this, still am traveling Europe with a group of six adults and seventeen students.  It’s a school trip.  I know everyone.

I have been posting blogs each day.  While I’ve featured guest blogs a good amount the last couple of weeks, I’ve still had to set them up, edit them, set release dates, and so on.  The big relief for me was not having to have read all of the books that my friends guest reviewed!  There were a couple of days that I will admit I was afraid the daily post would be interrupted.  Some of the WiFi here in European hotels isn’t all that, but with a little luck and planning, it’s June 28th, and the streak is still alive!  I’m writing from the bus right now which is supposed to have WiFi as we enter Spain, and our hotel tonight has a pool, so I’m guessing that if the bus WiFi sucks, a hotel with a pool should at least have a good enough signal to allow me to post this (it did…the WiFi in this Spanish hotel is dope!).

I have a lot to say about my trip, and the things that I will be taking away from it, but that’s a story to open my next year of exploring why “Storytelling Is Not Dead.”

For today, I’ll be writing a review of Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty.  This is yet another book that my comic book friends have been trying to get me to read for years.

Title: Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty 

Author(s): G. Neri and Randy DuBurke

Publisher: Lee & Low Books (2010)

Age Rating: 13+

Yummy tells the close-to-true true tale of an eleven-year-old boy Robert “Yummy” Sandifer.  Yummy, on the run after allegedly accidentally killing a young girl from him neighborhood, allows the reader and writer to attempt to grasp the intellectual and emotional decisions that forced the Southside of Chicago into such a devastating situation.

I say “close-to-true” because while Yummy is a real young man that allegedly killed and died on the streets of Chicago, the situation that the book sets up is indeed partially fictional.  G. Neri creates a narrator to guide us through the story and fill in a few gaps to enable the story to feel a bit more cohesive than a 9:00 P.M. local news story.

Two things about this book move me more than anything else: the fact that it’s black and white; and after the murder early in the book…nothing really happens.

I think the decision to make this book black and white is brilliant.  As we discover who Yummy is and was, we learn that not everyone saw him as a cold-blooded killer.  There are many questions left unanswered in the murder of young Shavon Dean, and some might argue, gray areas are established.  G. Neri and Randy DuBurke give us none, and this is a fine point of discussion with friends and/or students.  What does something being black and white mean?  Does every situation have shades of gray?

Another thing that interests me about this one is that after the murder and Yummy on the run, nothing really happens.  We get testimony and reactions from those closest to the event, but this isn’t the normal action-packed story that is normally known to make it to print.  Yummy is real.  In real life, actions happen, and we usually flounder until they get resolved.  And most of the time, we don’t get the luxury of having things tied up nicely with a pretty little bow.  Live is tough, at times seemingly unbearable, we have to find ways to survive.

Not a feel good title, but an important one, Yummy is classroom friendly from middle-school up and will pair well with any story of loss, teen-violence, and innocence…just to name a few.  I have not met a student that read it that didn’t find it to be an important book.  Take that for what it’s worth.  And if you are a lover/teacher of graphic novels, and you have not yet read Yummy, you need to.

Happy reading!

Eric

Twitter: @comics_teacher

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