Title: Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty
Author: G. Neri
Illustrator: Randy DuBurke
Publisher: Lee & Low Books
Concepts: poverty, criminal justice
Review: In September 1994, eleven-year-old Robert "Yummy' Sandifer shot and killed Shavon Dean, an innocent girl caught by a stray bullet meant for rival gang members. Deemed as a liability to his own gang, Yummy was murdered days later by two fellow gang members. This tragic set of events brought the tough projects of Chicago's Southside into the national spotlight, with probing questions about problems with poverty, gang violence, drug abuse, and incarceration in America's inner cities.
This new graphic novel presents readers with a dramatization of how a sweet young child suffered from parental neglect and abuse and turned to violence as the only way he knew how to cope. As he continued to slip through the cracks of family services and the criminal justice system, petty crime turned into violent crime already at a young age.
Objective storytelling and gritty illustrations push the reader to consider how Yummy played the role of both victim and bully. More broadly, the book can prompt important conversations about what should be done to improve economic opportunities and social support in America's most disadvantaged urban neighborhoods.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children