Author/Illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka Discusses Challenged Book “Hey, Kiddo” on Sept. 28

September 14, 2021 | Adult Services

Albany Public Library (APL) is hosting a special Banned Books Week virtual talk with popular youth author Jarrett J. Krosoczka about his graphic memoir Hey, Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction on Tuesday, Sept. 28, at 6:30 pm.

Krosoczka will share his story writing about personal experiences and about having the book “challenged” for its content and language. The author talk, which will be held on Zoom and facilitated by APL youth librarians, is appropriate for ages 12 and older. Registration for the free event is required.

“Raised by his colorful grandparents, who adopted him because his mother was an incarcerated heroin addict, Krosoczka didn’t know his father’s name until he saw his birth certificate when registering for a school trip. Hey, Kiddo traces Krosoczka’s search for his father, his difficult interactions with his mother, his day-to-day life with his grandparents, and his path to becoming an artist,” the National Book Foundation said of the 2018 book, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. Krosoczka may be best known as author/illustrator of the popular graphic novel series for elementary-age readers “Lunch Lady” and “Star Wars: Jedi Academy.”

While Hey, Kiddo was challenged for “inappropriate words, inappropriate behaviors, sex, drugs, alcohol, stealing, infidelity, and murder,” according to the American Library Association Office of Intellectual Freedom, it was also praised as a book that could help youngsters cope with the challenges of life. Krosoczka will discuss how this deeply personal book was challenged for his depiction of the difficult events that he lived through as an adolescent.

“There are books for young people that hold difficult truths, and we gatekeepers — writers, parents, teachers, librarians — often find ourselves trying to sort out just what is appropriate for our kids to read about…I didn’t pull any punches because of one simple realization: There are difficult truths in our books because there are difficult truths in children’s lives,” Krosoczka wrote in an article for The Washington Post in 2018.

He also wrote in that piece, “It certainly isn’t up to me to tell parents what their child should and shouldn’t read, but I do know this: There are some very difficult and inconvenient topics our children are going to face in real life. I so hope that our young people can experience and learn about these difficult truths for the first time on the page and not in real life. The windows that books provide may give them warning and steer them in a positive direction.”

Krosoczka’s Hey, Kiddo is available to borrow from APL. Borrow a physical copy; an ebook or audiobook on Overdrive/Libby; or an audiobook on Hoopla.

The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza also carries the book and is providing copies for 20% off for program attendees.

The  Sept. 28 book talk is part of Banned Books Week, an annual celebration of the right to read during which libraries, schools, and bookstores highlight the benefits of unrestricted reading and the harms of censorship.


Stephanie Simon

Stephanie Simon is manager of APL's Communication and Creative Services Department, which provides content and information for the library's website, social media, publications, videos, podcasts, and other outlets. Stephanie also manages APL's public relations and marketing efforts.