Title: Hey, Kiddo
Author: Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Age Range: 12+
Grade Range: 7th+
Our Rating: !!!
Jarrett J. Krosoczka is a New York Time Bestselling author who was first published at twenty-three years old, and has published dozens of books since then. His most well-known graphic novels are his Lunch Lady series and his arcs in the Star Wars: Jedi Academy. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, children, and two pugs. To learn more about him click here.
Hey, Kiddo’s subtitle sums it up nicely: “How I Lost my Mother, Found my Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction.” It follows Jarrett’s birth, childhood, coming of age, and young adulthood and how his relationships with his family and himself changes. It also shows his journey as a budding artists, and how is art was an important outlet for him.
I love the art. The wispy graphics and lack of borders are reminiscent of distant memories, fitting for a memoir where most of it took place when he was too young to remember much. There is a limited color palette, using only grays, blacks and a dark, burnt orange. The dark colors make the tone a lot heavier, and are used a lot when Jarrett is stressed, scared, or upset. The orange is a sort of refuge for the main character and used in happier scenes, but it also becomes much darker and contrasts nicely in intense scenes. I also loved all the artifacts from his childhood; every drawing Jarrett does in the book is a real piece of art that Krosoczka did at that time.
I really enjoyed this book because Krosoczka is very honest about his life and puts himself into a vulnerable position. The scenes he pulls from his life are not always giant, typical life-changing events, but small pieces of his life that really had an impact on him at the time. I admit it was upsetting to read at times, but there are many heartwarming scenes that showed love and warmth, and it ends with Jarrett recognizing that although his family was atypical, he still had a loving and caring family.
I think this books is important because young readers who have grown up affected by substance abuse will find solace and comfort in not being alone, and will find reassurance by the uplifting end and the author’s notes at the end of the book. For readers who have no experience with addiction or substance abuse, this book serves as a good educator into the lives their friends, current or future, may be living with. Experience is an important teacher, and learning more about different experiences is worthwhile for young learners.
A beautifully honest book that I would recommend in any collection.
Publisher: Graphix (Scholastic)
Title: March: Book One, March: Book Two, March: Book Three
Creators: John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
Grade Range: 8th+
Our Rating: !!!
The March Trilogy is the autobiography of Congressman John Lewis’ involvement in the fight for Civil Rights. From his early days in SNCC, Freedom Rides, relationships with Robert F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.Malcolm X, to Bloody Sunday, Lewis recounts the his experiences as a member and then a leader of the Civil Rights Movement.
All three books have received numerous awards upon publication; March: Book One is the first graphic novel to receive the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, joining Lewis’ previous memoir Walking With the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement. The books were co-written with Andrew Aydin, who is known for his stories in The X-Files Annual 2016 and Bitch Planed Triple Feature #1, now Aydin serves as Digital Director and Policy Advisor to Congressman Lewis. The illustrator, Nate Powell is known for his solo graphic novels Come Again, Swallow Me Whole, and Any Empire, but specifically The Silence of Our Friends with Mark Long and Jim Damonakos, which we reviewed here.
The three have teamed up multiple times since the publication of March producing Wake Up America 1940-1960 and Wake Up America 1960-1963. We look forward to their upcoming graphic novel to be released in June of next year, Run.
March is an epic tale that is jam-packed with action and the behind the scenes of historical moments you may remember from history textbooks. It is intense and maintains a brisk pace throughout the three books with characters, including Lewis under constant threats of danger, framed by Lewis attending President Obama’s Inauguration in January of 2009. Powell’s art is angular, hard-edged, and in black and white, reflecting the difficulties of the time. The style is also reminiscent of Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story, a 1957 comic book that Lewis says inspired him to consider writing a graphic memoir. Lewis, Aydin, and Powell do not try to sanitize the fight for Civil Rights, however, I believe that this book is appropriate for young adults at a point in their education learning about the Civil Rights Movement in their history courses.
I did have to put it down a few times while reading, but I always looked forward to picking it back up again. Although it’s intensity may be intimidating, it is an ultimately positive series and left me feeling motivated to do more to make the world a better place.
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions