Reviews for Hey, Kiddo

by Jarrett Krosoczka

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* In this deeply vulnerable, moving graphic memoir, Krosoczka, well known for his popular Lunch Lady series, recounts his sometimes troubled childhood, spent largely with his grandparents; his struggle to maintain a relationship with his heroin-addicted mother; and his gradually developing love for making art and comics. His grandfather officially took custody of Krosoczka when he was not yet five years old, and it wasn't until much later that his learned about his mother's heroin addiction and imprisonment. Life with his grandparents a hard-drinking couple who bickered constantly wasn't always easy, but his grandfather was a stalwart supporter of his artistic aspirations, and he slowly realized that the atypical family he ultimately collected (even eventually his father, whom he finally met late in his teen years) could be enough. Krosoczka's brushy, expressive artwork, incorporating snippets of his childhood drawings and letters, beautifully conveys the difficult circumstances of his upbringing. There's a tender quality to his graceful line work and muted color palette, which adds to the compassionate way he depicts his family, even when he can't count on them. A closing author's note fills in additional backstory and helpful context, including the ultimate, heartbreaking result of his mother's addiction. There have been a slew of graphic memoirs published for youth in the past couple of years, but the raw, confessional quality and unguarded honesty of Krosoczka's contribution sets it apart from the crowd.--Sarah Hunter Copyright 2018 Booklist

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A childhood beset by generations of family addiction is revealed in this raw graphic-novel memoir from a well-known children's author and illustrator. Though he doesn't realize it until later, Krosoczka's (The Principal Strikes Back, 2018, etc.) mother suffers from addiction, which brings turmoil into their family's life. Basic needs go unmet, promises are routinely broken, and the stability and safety most take for granted are never guaranteed. Krosoczka is raised by his grandparents when his mom can no longer care for him. The contradictions prevalent in his childhood will resonate with readers who have experienced addiction and educate those who have not. Yes, there is chaos, but there is also warmth, seen, for example, when Krosoczka's mom fakes his birthday for an impromptu party at a fast-food chain, or in the way his grandfather never misses an opportunity to tell him he is loved. Krosoczka learns self-reliance as a survival strategy. He also learns to express himself through art. The palette, awash in gray and earth tones, invokes the feeling of hazy memories. Interspersed are tender and at times heartbreaking images of real drawings and letters from the author and several family members. Krosoczka as an author generously and lovingly shows his flawed family members striving to do the best they can even as Krosoczka the character clearly aches for more. Honest, important, and timely. (author's note, note on the art) (Graphic novel memoir. 14-adult) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Gr 7 Up-In this intimate graphic memoir, Krosoczka looks back on his childhood and adolescence. His mother was a heroin addict, who was incarcerated or in rehab for much of his young life, and his father wasn't around-until Krosoczka was in the sixth grade, he didn't even know the man's first name. The author/illustrator was raised by his loving but often amusingly coarse maternal grandparents, who were well past their child-rearing days. Though growing up without his biological parents was painful, Krosoczka had a supportive network of extended family and friends, and his art became both his passion and his salvation. The visuals beautifully re-create his early memories, with fluid lines depicting the figures and hand-painted washes of gray with burnt orange highlights in the backgrounds. Borderless panels and word balloons deftly draw readers into the action. Artifacts from the Krosoczka family's past are inserted into the story, such as artwork and letters, and even the pineapple wallpaper from his grandparents' home is included between chapters. VERDICT A compelling, sometimes raw look at how addiction can affect families. A must-have, this book will empower readers, especially those who feel alone in difficult situations.-Kelley Gile, Cheshire Public Library, CT Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

In this sophisticated graphic memoir, Krosoczka recounts the triumphs and tragedies he experienced being raised by his grandparents. Regularly left in the dark regarding his family, Krosoczka eventually learns of his mother's addiction to heroin and of her habitual incarceration. Krosoczka's actual childhood art (from early crayon drawings to high-school gag comics) and handwritten letters are seamlessly inserted into the gracefully rendered, limited-palette illustrations. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Jarrett's mother, Leslie, is a heroin addict-though he doesn't know it until later in his childhood-so Jarrett's grandparents, Joe and Shirl, step in to raise him. Evoking a great sense of people and place, Krosoczka (the Jedi Academy series) conveys the joys and complications of his young life in Worcester, Mass.-his childhood nightmares, his relationship with his mother through letters and sporadic visits, his grandparents' tense relationships with one another and their children, and their great care in fostering Jarrett's talent for art. Krosoczka portrays his mother empathically, showing her affection for him even as she struggles to be a reliable presence (in one scene, she takes him and his friends to celebrate a missed birthday). His father is absent, until, at 17, Krosoczka writes him to ask about possible half-siblings, and a relationship develops. Photographed family artifacts appear throughout the grayscale-and-burnt-orange panels, marking moments significant and everyday: his early art (all saved by his grandparents), letters from his mother, a comics class taken at the Worcester Art Museum. This nuanced graphic memoir portrays a whole family and tells a story of finding identity among a life's complications. Ages 12-up. Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Oct.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.