Gritty, real, and one question: why has nothing changed?


Welcome to Chicago, 1994. Roger (11), is trying to understand what happened to his neighbor Robert "Yummy" Sandifer (11), who was recently found dead. In his search for information, Roger learns that Robert and his brother are in the Black Disciples, a popular gang. Robert shot a gun into a crowd with members of a rival gang and killed Shavon Dean, another neighbor. It was an accident, but Robert is wanted by police and he goes into hiding. The police ultimately found him in a railway tunnel. He had been shot by members of the gang he was trying to impress. Based on a true story.

Teen Student Reader (17):
I enjoyed the book a lot and I'll read it again. Yummy's is a voice that is so loud that it creates echoes. But, just like echoes, the voice dies down and is almost never heard again. Unfortunately, Yummy's voice has not been enough to stop the constant never ending violence and poverty in Chicago.

If you don't feel any sympathy for what goes on in Chicago, this book will make you feel otherwise, and truly make your heart heart for kids who are thrown into gangs at such a young age.

Yummy's story is well-served by being a comic because we can see the pressure on him to commit violent acts and the stresses a person can go through at a young age.  Reading it is powerful, but seeing it is another thing. Through word and illustration, this book takes on heavy subjects, illustrates heavy stakes, and tackles serious situations. It leaves the reader wondering, why an 11 year old has to go through such trauma to survive?

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

Enlightening, powerful, uncomfortable, and sure to push many emotions and questions to the surface. Don't dismiss this book as "history." Yes, it is a dramatization of events in 1994, but the underlying situations and the questions it raises are as relevant today as ever.

Content Awareness Factors:

Gangs and violence.

Type of Book:
This is an illustrated biography about a Chicago murder, told from the perspective of a fictionalized character.
Educational Themes:

This graphic novel is sure to create discussions about gangs, violence, and urban survival. This specific event took place more than 25 years ago, but the underlying conditions remain. Our reviewers suggest these topics:

  • How America turns a blind-eye to suffering of African American youths, men, and women.
  • How poverty inheritance leads to cycles of violence.

This book also asks the reader tough questions.

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
14 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
12 and Up
Age of child:
Teen Student Volunteer. Reviewer Age: 17
Purchase Recommendation:
Buy. This book is great. Read it as a reminder of how you should take things for granted. It is also good for never forgetting what really goes on in lower income communities.

Title Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty
Author G. Neri
Publisher Lee & Low Books © 2010
Illustrators Randy DuBurke
ISBN 9781584302674
Material Paperback
Cost $16.95
Genres Biography, Comics | Graphic Novels, Death and Loss, Realism | Realistic Fiction, Urban Fiction, Social Issues
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