Smart, confident Dyamonde sits in her third-grade classroom and wonders why she’s been at her new school for weeks and still doesn’t have a best friend. In walks Free, a new student who’s so withdrawn and irritable that Dyamonde secretly names him Rude Boy. When plucky Dyamonde challenges Free, he begins to open up and slowly becomes a friend. Any child who is a “new kid” could benefit from contrasting the two main characters: Free tends to look backward to his old life and inward to his emotions, while Dyamonde looks forward to a new best friend and outward to the people and possibilities of her new neighborhood. Clean, direct prose and strong, clear characterizations make this an appealing early chapter book, while Christie’s stylized, dynamic drawings give it a fresh look. A welcome addition to the steadily growing list of beginning chapter books with African American protagonists, this is a promising start for the Dyamonde Daniel series.
Nikki Grimes began penning poetry at the age of six. Her many award-winning titles include the picture books Talkin’ About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman, which won the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award and a Coretta Scott King Author Honor, and Meet Danitra Brown, which won a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor. Coretta Scott King Author Honors went to her novels The Road to Paris, Jazmin’s Notebook, and Dark Sons, and her novel Bronx Masquerade won the Coretta Scott King Author Award. She lives in Corona, California.