A Parent’s Guide to Hey, Kiddo (Graphic Novel)

WARNING: Reading this article may give away things in the story ranging from unimportant to plot turners.

Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Type: Coming of Age

Basic Plot: In an autobiography, Mr. Krosoczka tells the story of his childhood and teenage years and how he became who he is today.

Quality

Plot: 4/5 Well Done: It’s hard to judge if someone’s real life is a good “plot” for a story, but Mr. Krosoczka fulfills it with a story that is raw and possibly all too familiar to some readers. It very clearly and concisely summarizes the journey from before his birth to his almost adulthood. The story is emotional, raw, and real, without any wishy-washiness or tones of having to feel sorry for the author. Rather than being a story focuses on overcoming a crushing trial, it has more the tones of showing how he became the person he is today and how he lived through a childhood that felt a little different.

Graphics: 3/5 Well Done: While the art itself is very casual, it is made memorable with scatterings of his art from all stages of life. Though it may seem to be a little too casual at times, the drawings are very accurate and filled with meaningful details. Besides this, the book is filled with true art from every part of his life.

Moral: 3½/5 Good Moral: The morals that Mr. Krosoczka tried to impress in his book were to never give up; confront the problems of your life; and, most of all, to learn to appreciate what is given to you. As a child, he felt awkward and even embarrassed that his mother was in and out of prison and that he was raised by his grandparents. He learns not only to accept this but to be thankful for the good he does have. As he gets older, he even is able to forgive those that made his life difficult and sincerely wish the best for them.

Overall: 3½/5 Above Average: There are many good things that can be taken from this book, morally and artistically. One is really taking in another person’s life as they watch this. I believe that the age group that would most appreciate this is adults and perhaps teenagers and older preteens that are going through the same thing.

Moral Content

Sexual and Inappropriate Content: 4/5 Explicit Terms and Suggestive Undertones: A boy is called “vagina chest” because of the way his chest hair grows. A boy rub a boy’s tie between his legs and under his pants. It is mentioned that a woman would “sleep around,” resulting in pregnancy. Another woman is pregnant before marriage and lives with her boyfriend. A woman calls her daughter for doing this a “hussy,” “prostitute,” “slut,” “tramp.” and “whore.” Another woman is called a “tramp” and her “tits” are mentioned. A boy paints a man around a light switch, with said light switch on his private area. There are rare appearances of women with low tops, and there are twice women shown in bikini tops and leg revealing skirts. A little boy is shown in his underwear. and boys swim shirtless. There is a comic about a boy asking for protection and being offered a condom. A man kisses a woman’s cheek and mouth. Some making out teenagers are told to “get a room.” A man has a shirt that says “We’ve got the biggest balls in the industry.”

Violence: 2/5 Brief Moderate Violence: Some boys punch a boy to the point of bleeding. Some children want “violence” to be the theme of their comics. A dog bites a person. Some boys playfully wrestle.

Swearing and Using the Lord’s Name in Vain: 4/5 Frequent, Heavy Cursing: God’s name is taken in vain seven times (as well as one flippant “Thank God”) and Jesus’ name or Christ eight times (three times including Mary and Joseph). Forms of the “f” word is used six times. The “s” word is used  fourteen times. The “bi” word and “bastard” are each misused three times. “Hell” is misused eight times. Forms of “damn” are used eleven times. A heterosexual boy is called a faggot. Because of an accident, a boy’s hand is stuck int he middle finger position.

Emotional, Intense, and Disturbing Content: 3/5 Deep Emotional Issues: The book focuses on the author’s unorthodox childhood, which had him raised by his grandparents because his mother was a heroin addict. The consequences of her lifestyle are very evident, as well as the emotional pain his whole family goes through.

A boy gets his hand stuck in an escalator and has to have his arm yanked out of it. The hand is showed bandaged and bleeding. A boy has nightmares about monsters surrounding him and then attacking him. Various characters bleed from violence. He also has nightmares about people having severed heads and biting him, and another nightmare shows a boy sitting in a chair and being bitten on the bottom. It is mentioned that a boy saw his mother burn to death. In a picture there is a reaper around some teenagers, the words “Prom Bill” on his scythe. There is a picture of a man having his head taken off and another of a boy crying. A boy goes to the cemetery with his grandparents. While there, he tells the readers that his grandparents often talked about death and the things surrounding it, like wills and obituary photos, his grandma once in the book directly mentioning the latter. A drunk woman falls down stairs. A stuffed dog catches on fire, mostly for humor. A boy mentions he got smacked on the head. A woman tells a joke about getting run over by a train. It is mentioned that a woman pushed her mother over. It mentions a baby was born with in danger of choking from his umbilical cord. It is mentioned that a boy was stabbed to death at a high school. It is mentioned a four year old had leukemia. It mentions a woman had a miscarriage. There is mention of Jarrett’s grandfather being involved in WWII. A boy mentions his grandparents fight but “never draw blood.” Characters cry.

The author’s note mentions people dying, and a man getting dementia and dying of leukemia.

Religious Issues: 1/5 Mention: A man prays for the dead. A boy attends a Catholic school, and it is mentioned it was started by nuns. A girl mentions getting communion. A man is mentioned to have been Catholic and married a Protestant woman. Greek myths in general are mentioned. A boy refuses to go into a haunted mansion attraction with ghost. “Ghosts” and “haunt” are used for descriptive purposes. A chapter is called “Ghosts.” Luck is briefly mentioned in speech.

Magic: 0/5 None

Others: Jarrett’s mother is and has been a heroin addict since thirteen, and this plays a big part in the story. The farthest it ever shows of her actually taking heroin is a brief picture of her somewhere lighting a spoon of something over a flame and holding a needle. The consequences though, of overdose and eventually death, are mentioned in the book or author’s notes. Besides this, characters are are frequently smoking, drink alcohol (hinted to include minors), and mention that characters where drunkards and a man a drug dealer. A family watches PSA announcements about drugs. A man and a woman get drunk. A boy mentions that some people had divorced parents. Characters go to Disney World, and there are mentions of characters such as Donald Duck, Goofy, and Mickey Mouse. There are mentions of Charlie Brown and characters, DC characters, Sesame Street and characters, Rotten Ralph, How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, Spider Man, Ren and Stimpy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Street Sharks.. The songs “Coming Out” by Gloria Estefan, “When the Children Come” by White Lion, and “Leon on Me” are mentioned. A boy listens to Smashing Pumpkins and some of the lyrics are shown. Characters watch Wheel of Fortune and The Price is Right. Halloween is mentioned, and a picture of a boy in a costume is shown. Frankenberry cereal is briefly mentioned. Donna J. Stone is mentioned.

The author’s notes mentions books he wrote, including Monkey Boy and the Lunch Lady series.

Overall: Morally, I do not recommend this book. There is a lot of cursing and vulgar references. Outside of these two things, the book does deal with drugs in a discreet manner as well as the consequences.

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