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A heartfelt story honestly and evocatively told.

A writer and artist navigates her Thai and American heritage.

Opening in the mid-1990s, when MacLeod was 11, this graphic memoir traces her emotional and physical journeys of searching for connection and belonging while making sense of her blended family and her bicultural luk khrueng (“half child” in Thai) identity. Despite having a Thai mother and growing up in Bangkok, Kathy, who attends an international school where you’re not allowed to speak Thai, feels like she lives in an “American bubble.” She counts down the days until her family’s annual trip to coastal Maine, where clam chowder, lighthouses, blueberries, and the relatives on her dad’s side await. Once stateside, however, Kathy’s self-conscious feelings of being different return, and she finds herself balancing hypervisibility with wanting to be “just invisible enough.” Her constant negotiations between places and perspectives will be familiar to anyone who’s experienced feelings of isolation, highlighting the story’s core lesson that the path to finding oneself is full of obstacles, and the key is to explore—even embrace—each and every element of one’s own identity. Just as both her mom’s curry and her aunt Barbie’s strawberry shortcake taste like home, Kathy learns that each dimension of her personal and cultural background offers much on its own without overshadowing other parts. The simple yet expressive art style is charming and at times poignant, showing the family dynamics and the secrets locked within people’s hearts.

A heartfelt story honestly and evocatively told. (afterword, photos) (Graphic memoir. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 2, 2024

ISBN: 9781250813732

Page Count: 224

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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A good if limited starting guide.

Author Leavitt presents all the components of doing research into family history with easy-to-follow directions for a successful project.

The volume begins with clear definitions about genealogy and why it is important to study. It moves on to give practical tips on getting started and how to map a family tree. It introduces young readers to the important documents that can assist in gathering family facts and describes the information they provide. It gives solid directions for setting up interviews with family members and how to reach out to those who are far away. This is followed up with strategies for using online resources, including warnings on how to stay safe on social media. The work of tracing ancestors from their countries of origin can be daunting, but Leavitt gives some help in this area as well and explores the role geography can play in family stories. There is good advice for collecting oral histories, and the chapter on exploring “The Way They Were” will appeal to many, as will the concluding chapters on family reunions and keeping in touch. All of this is presented in an encouraging, upbeat tone. Sidebars, charts, illustrations, and photographs add to the accessibility. The major drawback is that it assumes a known biological lineage with heterosexual parentage; there is no mention of the unique issues adopted children and nontraditional families might have in trying to put some of the instructions into practice. A short section addresses the challenges that face African-American descendants of enslaved people.

A good if limited starting guide. (resources, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4549-2320-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Sterling

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

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A thorough and comprehensive treatment of the subject.

This guide to the various components of researching family history provides helpful hints for young genealogists.

Interest in family research continues across ages, and this volume explores all aspects in great detail. It begins by pointing out that all humankind began in the same place—eastern Africa—and shares what scholars believe about how various groups spread throughout the world. From then on, personal genealogy is approached as a mystery to be solved, a strategy designed to engage its target audience. The recognition that there are many types of families is a critical part of the text. All kinds of threads are explored, from documentary evidence to family stories, with suggestions on how to evaluate them. Each topic is fully described. For example, in addition to addressing how to use census data, the book discusses the origins of the census and the parts that are relevant to family research. The section on DNA is brief but gives scientific perspective. Very little is left to chance, including how to store, preserve, and retrieve the accumulated data. The narrative is inviting and lively in tone, but it doesn’t shy away from potential difficulties. It is richly illustrated in full color with sidebars to provide additional information, though some pages feel too full to digest. Diversity is woven throughout the text, illustrations, sidebars, and graphics.

A thorough and comprehensive treatment of the subject. (glossary, further resources, index) (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: April 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4263-2983-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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