Review| Change the Game: A Graphic Novel
Even if you don’t follow football, you have likely heard of Colin Kaepernick. During the 2016 season Kaepernick, then a quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, chose to kneel during the National Anthem to protest police brutality and racial inequality in this country. His actions created controversy, with even then-candidate for President Donald Trump entering the debate. When Kaepernick became a free agent the following year, no NFL team signed him. Now he is publishing a graphic memoir of his senior year in high school.
Change the Game: A Graphic Novel
By Colin Kaepernick, Eve L. Ewing, and Orlando Caicedo
March 2023, Scholastic Graphix $14.99
During his senior in high school, Colin is a talented athlete who plays and excels at several different sports. While he is especially talented at baseball, and has caught the eye of a number of college recruiters, Colin isn’t sure that is the direction he wants to follow. Eventually he decides to throw his hat in the ring for a football scholarship.
In the meanwhile, Colin is struggling with his identity. Growing up in a white family (he is adopted, though it is never clearly stated) in a town that is mostly white and not all that sensitive to diversity, Colin is tired of facing both overt and subtle racism. He tries to embrace his African American identity by wearing his hair differently and listening to new music, but his parents are not 100% behind him, and the relationship becames strained as he tries to explore who he is and who he wants to become.
The story is told with sensitivity. It’s a gripping tale that gives readers an understanding of how Kaepernick became a civil rights activist. Readers interested in sports will gravitate to this title, and sports fans will have lots of sports action to enjoy, but this is way more than just a sports story.
Vivid and realistic artwork that will bring readers into the story evokes the various moods Colin experiences (even more so than the text), and plenty of sports action. The artist created action using many different methods including panel layouts that are more varied than the traditional rectangle after rectangle.
I believe many readers will be drawn to the book and won’t regret it once they get into the story. It will give them a glimpse of how Kaepernick came to follow the path of activism. This book is a worthy addition to library collections.
About Esther Keller
Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. She also curates the Graphic Novel collection for the NYC DOE Citywide Digital Library. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.
SLJ Blog Network