Yummy: the Last Days of a Southside Shorty

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Yummy: the Last Days of a Southside Shorty is an acclaimed graphic novel by G. Neri with art by Randy Duburke, published by Lee and Low Books in August, 2010 (ISBN 978-1584302674). The story is about Robert “Yummy” Sandifer, who was eleven years old in 1994 when he became a fugitive from justice after accidentally killing a neighbor girl. Neri creates a fictional narrator who watches what happens to Yummy when he seeks help from the gang he is trying to impress. Instead, they turn on him when he becomes too much of a liability to them. The book asks hard questions: Was Yummy a thug who got what he deserved? Or was he just as much a victim as the girl he killed? As our hero says, “I tried to figure out who the real Yummy was. The one who stole my lunch money? Or the one who smiled when I shared my candy with him? I wondered if I grew up like him, would I have turned out the same?”[1]

Awards and Reviews[edit]

The book won a 2011 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Award and was named one of the Best Books of 2010 by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and Kirkus Reviews. It also has received five starred reviews—from Kirkus Reviews, Booklist, School Library Journal, the Bulletin of the Center of Children's Books, and VOYA.

List of Awards and honors[2]

  • 2011 Coretta Scott King Author Honor
  • 2011 ALA Notable Book
  • Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2010
  • Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2010
  • Booklist Editor's Choice Best Books of 2010
  • 2010 Cybil Award - Best YA Graphic Novel
  • 2011 YALSA Top 10 Quick Picks
  • 2011 ALA Great Graphic Novels for Teens
  • Booklist's Top 10 Graphic Novels for Youth
  • School Library Journal Best Comics for 2010
  • CCBC Choices 2011
  • 2011 IRA Notable Book for a Global Society
  • SLJ's Fuse #8: 100 Magnificent Children’s Books of 2010 List
  • PW Comic Weekly Fifth Annual Critics Poll List
  • Chicago Public Library - Best of the Best Book
  • Virginia Readers' Choice List for high school
  • 2010 Best Books for Youths (Philadelphia Inquirer, Times Union)
  • Top 5 Graphic Novels of 2010 (Guys Lit Wire, Nexus Graphica)
  • Cynsational Books of 2010
  • 2011 Glyph Award nomination - Story of the Year
  • Red Star Book Award in 2010

Starred Reviews[3]

Kirkus Reviews described it by saying, “A haunting, ripped-from-the-headlines account of youth gang violence in Chicago provides the backdrop for a crucial mediation on right and wrong. A much-needed look at the terrifying perils of life on the margins that will have all readers pondering the heady question of moral responsibility." Booklist added it was "A harrowing portrait... Yummy will earn both the reader’s livid rage and deep sympathy, even as the social structure that created him is cast, once again, as America’s undeniable shame. This is a graphic novel that pushes an unsightly but hard to ignore socio-political truth out into the open." School Library Journal summed it all up: "Yummy [is] something entirely new. Gritty, real, willing to ask tough questions, and willing to trust that young readers will be able to reach their own conclusions. This is a story that needs to be told and it needs to be told to kids. Believe me, you’ve nothing like this in your collection."

Neri on Yummy[edit]

Neri says about the story “Back in 1994 I was a filmmaker teaching workshops to kids in the inner-city schools of Los Angeles. When the Yummy story broke, a lot of discussions started popping up among the kids. Some felt Yummy was a straight-up thug who got what he deserved. Others felt he was a victim too. At the time, there was a gang war going on in the area and there had been several memorials for students who'd been killed. Many of the kids had siblings who were in gangs or had been affected by gangs. It was a loaded topic. I couldn't get the story out of my head.” He added “My telling some kids to stay out of gangs means nothing to them. But Yummy’s story is such a compelling wake-up call that I don’t have to say anything, or moralize on the issues. Readers can draw their own conclusions by seeing what happened to Yummy. There are no easy answers to be found, but hopefully the book will spark a lot of needed discussion.”[4]

References[edit]

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