Hey, Kiddo is writer/artist Jarrett J. Krosoczka’s powerful and touching autobiographical graphic novel about his growing up in the 1980s & 90s. Raised by his grandparents in Worcester, MA, due to his mother’s heroin addiction & his father’s refusal to acknowledge paternity,”Ja” makes an awkward but successful transition from scared young tween to a confident teenager with aspirations to become a graphic storyteller. Krosoczka shares with the reader his early fears, his strained relationship with his mother (who’s always in rehab or jail), and how he managed to reconcile with his father.
There are lots of familiar (and often painful) family situations that the reader will recognize from their own youth. The sometimes nasty arguments between Ja’s grandparents, the hesitant-at-first friendships at school, being bullied, the first pet, and the pain of rejection. But Krosoczka also reveals how his burning desire to become a cartoonist was encouraged by his family and friends, and how his drawing helped get him through some rough patches in his personal life. One charming sequence has Ja, now around 17, meet his father’s younger children, who, upon learning he’s an artist, ask him to draw some of their favorite fictional characters like Bart Simpson & Spider-Man!
Hey, Kiddo is a wonderful coming of age tale, well written & drawn, with photos of actual letters, cards & drawings that Krosoczka kept over the years. Students in grades 8-12 and older will enjoy this graphic novel.