Saturday, October 20, 2018

Kid Konnection: Hey, Kiddo

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week I'm going to share with you a terrific graphic novel.

Summary: In kindergarten, Jarrett Krosoczka's teacher asks him to draw his family, with a mommy and a daddy. But Jarrett's family is much more complicated than that. His mom is an addict, in and out of rehab, and in and out of Jarrett's life. His father is a mystery. Jarrett doesn't know where to find him, or even what his name is. Jarrett lives with his grandparents. Two very loud, very loving, very opinionated people who had thought they were through with raising children until Jarrett came along. Jarrett goes through his childhood trying to make his non normal life as normal as possible, finding a way to express himself through drawing even as so little is being said to him about what's going on. Only as a teenager can Jarrett begin to piece together the truth of his family, reckoning with his mother and tracking down his father. Hey, Kiddo is a profoundly important memoir about growing up in a family grappling with addiction, and finding the art that helps you survive. -- Scholastic

Looking back at Book Expo, one of the highlights was getting a signed copy of HEY, KIDDO: HOW I LOST MY MOTHER, FOUND MY FATHER, AND DEALT WITH FAMILY ADDICTION by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. I have been a big fan of the Lunch Lady series for years; and when I found out that the author had written a memoir about his childhood, I just knew it would be something special!

HEY, KIDDO is truly a wonderful graphic novel about Jarrett Krosoczka's complicated childhood. His mother was an addict, who was absent for long periods from Jarrett's life; and he didn't really know his father at all. He lived with his maternal grandparents who undoubtedly loved him, but weren't always the easiest people to life with.

As Jarrett grows older and becomes more aware of his family situation, he begins to realize the truth about his parents. He learns to accept his mother and he even begins to have a relationship of sorts with his father. Despite all of this things, Jarrett does his best to just be "normal," and in the process, he finds that his love of drawing helps him not only survive, but thrive!

Words cannot express how much I adored HEY, KIDDO. This graphic novel has fantastic illustrations (of course!), but I was truly blown away by how these drawings were able to convey the different characters' emotions. I'm not a huge reader of graphic novels (although I do enjoy them when I pick one up!), and I guess I didn't realize just how intense they can be.

It certainly didn't hurt that Mr. Krosoczka had a powerful childhood story. His situation was definitely complicated; and it's a true testament, both to him and his grandparents, how he was able to use art to cope. I found Mr. Krosoczka's strength to be admirable, and I think middle graders and high schoolers will find much to appreciate in this story.

However, it's how much this book has the potential to help children in similar situations that really makes HEY, KIDDO so amazing. Mr. Krosoczka's story is not only heartwarming, but it also shows children that it's possible to get through difficult times with a good support system. Furthermore, it's also possible to get through difficult times if you find something inside of yourself that can make you happy, like Mr. Krosoczka love of drawing.

HEY, KIDDO has already been chosen as a 2018 National Book Award Finalist, and I honestly can't think of a book (or author) that is more deserving. Highly recommended!

I received a copy of HEY, KIDDO at the 2018 Book Expo.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!


Beth F said...

Wow, sounds powerful -- it's so important for kids to know they're not the only ones in a difficult or different family situation.

Stacie said...

Since I've worked at the school the last 10 years, I much more aware of kids who have much different home lives than our kids do. It breaks my heart most days and I'm much more understanding of their behavior when it is often due to lack of sleep, hunger, or general lack of parenting.

bermudaonion said...

I thought this book was fabulous. I have a feeling there are a lot of kids who can relate to it.