Reading Teacher Writes

Sharing a love of literacy with fellow readers and writers

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Book PREView: Sunshine by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

In this companion to Hey, Kiddo, Jarrett takes us with him to Camp Sunshine, a week-long camp for pediatric cancer patients and their families. Jarrett volunteered when he was a senior in high school, and it changed his life.

Reading Sunshine changed my life – I can only read about Jarrett’s experience with Diego, Eric, and their families, but I wish my high school would have done a service project like this when I was young. I loved reading about the kids and all of the cool activities they got to do while at Camp Sunshine, despite their diagnoses.

Jarrett was a lovely host for Diego, encouraging the wheelchair-bound teen to speak a little more loudly and try activities that may have otherwise been impossible. Everything was possible at Camp Sunshine. Jarrett also made lifelong friends, special people who led him to be the wonderful human he is today.

Thank you to the author for sharing this wonderful graphic novel with readers. We are better people now that we’ve entered your world.

Recommended for ages 10 and up. Make sure you read the author’s note and acknowledgments. 5 Stars!

Sunshine publishes April 18, 2023 with Graphix. Thank you to Jarrett and the amazing people at Scholastic for the preview copy.

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Book Review: Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Hey, Kiddo‘s subtitle is “How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction.” Jarrett’s brave memoir is a graphic novel commentary for our times. Jarrett is brave to share his story in this memoir, and I’m so glad he did. We book lovers say, “Books save lives,” and I’m sure this particular book will help someone going through tough times.

One thing you need to know before reading this story is that, although it’s true that there are terrible forces in the world that overshadowed his family life, Jarrett’s story is not all sad. His grandparents who raised him are funny, smart, and loyal to each other. His mother does love him, although her addiction doesn’t allow her to be there for him. His friends are the same friends you and I have (and had) — they play games, go to dances at school, learn to drive, etc. Jarrett’s teachers in school take care of their students the best they know how, and Mr. Shilale, the art teacher, encourages Jarrett to stick with (and expand) his art studies. Again, I’m so glad Jarrett did. His early creative endeavors led him to write Lunch Lady graphic novels and books in the Star Wars: Jedi Academy series that we all know and love. Once he found his father, their growing relationship helped Jarrett grow to be a stronger man, too.

Why I Loved This Book: I loved that Jarrett Krosoczka opened his world and invited me in. I enjoyed getting to know him, and his family, and his story is one worth sharing. I love that this is a nonfiction graphic novel. The artwork is Jarrett’s own, and I love how he intertwined memorabilia into the pages (all the way down to his grandmother’s pineapple wallpaper). I love that this book is publishing in 2018, when so many students I know are facing hard family lives themselves, and I hope they are able to see themselves in this book.

Why You Should Read Hey, Kiddo: Read Hey, Kiddo to remember your youth. Read it to identify with the people in the book, and around you in your own life. Read the Author’s Notes in the back of the book — they will allow you to become Jarrett’s friend. Read it to enjoy the art and creativity. Read it to inspire you to share your story.