Written & Illustrated By Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Graphic Novel (ages 13-17) • 320 pages
Published by Scholastic, Inc. • 2018
Hey, Kiddo is a graphic novel memoir by celebrated children’s book illustrator, Jarrett Krosoczka. It is an empathetic, honest, and ultimately hopeful, snapshot of Krosoczka’s childhood growing up with his grandparents in the absence of both his mother, who struggled with heroin addiction & the law, and his father, who was little more than a mysterious shadow.
In high contrast black and white ink, softened in sepia toned washes, Hey, Kiddo offers both the hard truth of the insecurity, confusion and hurt of being connected to a parent who is an addict, as well as the contrasting, and seemingly contradictory, love and tenderness that can live alongside it. Krosoczka’s sensitive portrayal of the “gray” area where a child can receive both the best and worst of their families, can be both hurt and loved by them, is where the powerful offer of connection lies. Children—and adults alike—who recognize this experience in their own lives will be both validated and comforted in this read.
They will also be offered hope. In layering into the story his passion for art and the numerous ways it connected him to his mother, his grandparents, his community, Krosoczka demonstrates that there are lifelines that can and will see one through to safety, to purpose and to acceptance.
Hey, Kiddo is an important, timely read that is in and of its self a lifeline. And that, is most definitely something worth holding onto.
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Reviewed by: Jane Smith