Honest, important, and timely.

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HEY, KIDDO

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)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-545-90247-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today.

THEY CALLED US ENEMY

A beautifully heart-wrenching graphic-novel adaptation of actor and activist Takei’s (Lions and Tigers and Bears, 2013, etc.) childhood experience of incarceration in a World War II camp for Japanese Americans.

Takei had not yet started school when he, his parents, and his younger siblings were forced to leave their home and report to the Santa Anita Racetrack for “processing and removal” due to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066. The creators smoothly and cleverly embed the historical context within which Takei’s family’s story takes place, allowing readers to simultaneously experience the daily humiliations that they suffered in the camps while providing readers with a broader understanding of the federal legislation, lawsuits, and actions which led to and maintained this injustice. The heroes who fought against this and provided support to and within the Japanese American community, such as Fred Korematsu, the 442nd Regiment, Herbert Nicholson, and the ACLU’s Wayne Collins, are also highlighted, but the focus always remains on the many sacrifices that Takei’s parents made to ensure the safety and survival of their family while shielding their children from knowing the depths of the hatred they faced and danger they were in. The creators also highlight the dangerous parallels between the hate speech, stereotyping, and legislation used against Japanese Americans and the trajectory of current events. Delicate grayscale illustrations effectively convey the intense emotions and the stark living conditions.

A powerful reminder of a history that is all too timely today. (Graphic memoir. 14-adult)

Pub Date: July 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-60309-450-4

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Top Shelf Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2019

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A tribute to young people’s resistance in the face of oppression.

BANNED BOOK CLUB

In 1983 South Korea, Kim was learning to navigate university and student political activism.

The daughter of modest restaurant owners, Kim was apolitical—she just wanted to make her parents proud and be worthy of her tuition expenses. Following an administrator’s advice to avoid trouble and pursue extracurriculars, she joined a folk dance team where she met a fellow student who invited her into a banned book club. Kim was fearful at first, but her thirst for knowledge soon won out. As she learned the truth of her country’s oppressive fascist political environment, Kim became closer to the other book club members while the authorities grew increasingly desperate to identify and punish student dissidents. The kinetic manhwa drawing style skillfully captures the personal and political history of this eye-opening memoir. The disturbing elements of political corruption and loss of human rights are lightened by moving depictions of sweet, funny moments between friends as well as deft political maneuvering by Kim herself when she was eventually questioned by authorities. The art and dialogue complement each other as they express the tension that Kim and her friends felt as they tried to balance school, family, and romance with surviving in a dangerous political environment. References to fake news and a divisive government make this particularly timely; the only thing missing is a list for further reading.

A tribute to young people’s resistance in the face of oppression. (Graphic memoir. 14-adult)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-945820-42-7

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Iron Circus Comics

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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