Scholastic/Graphix. Apr. 2024. 272p. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9781338305722.
Gr 4 Up–Todd’s semi-autobiographical graphic novel depicts a quintessential and universal middle school experience. Drawing and comics are Cecil’s passions as he enters the seventh grade at a new middle school in Boston after his family moved from Florida. His father and sister are very forthright about what they think Cecil should be focusing on as a 12-year-old Black boy. His father believes Cecil, who is not into sports or athletics, should be tough and ready to stand up for himself, and his sister believes Cecil should focus on making Black friends at his new school. Cecil quickly realizes the cafeteria is the diciest part of being a new kid as he navigates social groups and searches for the right table to join. On a field trip, Cecil makes friends with a Black boy named Sean. Together, they collaborate to submit a comic to a local contest, winning second place. Even though Cecil struggles socially, he remains true to his dream to be a cartoonist and receives positive reinforcement from his peers and adults throughout the novel. It is easy to interpret the emotions of the characters in Todd’s illustrations, which are straightforward and emotive. Middle grade readers will identify with Cecil’s uncertainty about who he is, what he stands for, and who he wants to be. The ending may leave some wanting to know what happens next or hoping for a sequel.
VERDICT A must-have for all middle grade collections, Timid is sure to fit right in next to other popular contemporary graphic novels such as Jerry Craft’s New Kid, Allergic by Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee Nutter, and Guts by Raina Telgemeier.

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