Book: Yummy: The Last Days of A Southside Shorty by G. Neri & Randy Duburke
Genre(s): Realistic Historical Fiction, Graphic Novel
Publisher: Lee and Low Books
Publication date: 2010
Paperback: 96 pages
Other: has been selected for several Mock Printz lists
Summary: Based on the life of a real boy whose short, tragic life and death horrified the nation in 1994, the story of eleven year old Robert “Yummy” Sandifer is told through stark, arresting black and white drawings, and from the POV of another neighborhood kid, Roger. Yummy is a short, cute kid who loves candy, his teddy bear, and his grandma. Mischievous and energetic, he is irresistibly drawn to join the local gang and in a tragic accident, ends up shooting a 14 year old girl by the name of Shavon. The book explores the reasons such a young child could commit such violence, even inadvertently… Could it be his search for sense of security? (His parents are in jail and his grandma’s place is crowded with too many children and responsibilities for her to keep tabs on him.)
The narrator, Roger, explores these and more questions as he sees his older brother being drawn further into the gang culture and wonders if his own family will end up as devastated as Yummy’s and Shavon’s.
To whom will this appeal?: This book will appeal as much to the lover of historical fiction as to the graphic novel aficionado. The combination of the stark black and white drawings and the simple and searing prose will appeal to many adults, teens and children, regardless of their genre preferences. And, at 96 pages, this is a quick, stunning, and, perhaps, depressing read–that will probably stir the reading interest of many a reluctant reader who may be initially drawn in by the short length. But one which will appeal to those who want to see gritty realism reflected in their reading.