Hey Kiddo, I have a graphic novel for you. It is a powerful memoir by author and illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka. While the action is not in a traditional story format, you are given the right amounts of information, action, illustration and imagination to help you see how one person became the world-known creator of the Lunch Lady series (among many other fun titles). The format of the graphic novel is a unique (but perfect) way of showing how Krosoczka grew up with a heroin addicted mother, a missing father and two very forceful grandparents, Krosoczka does not hold back the feelings.
The illustrations are not what you would expect from him. They are more realistic and flow around the page. There are no real bright colors. There are patches of light, but the overall theme is “dark” and (as he mentions later) in oranges. Panels flow into each other even with white space. Some are full page illustrations and the text sometimes is more powerful and overwhelming than the art itself. Yet, you never feel like you are being swamped. If you do, you just have to put it down for a minute or two.
But I promise, you will not want to put it down for too long. The book just lends itself to read as a regular novel and you can just fly through it. Yet, you do want to sit and reflect on what you have read, process the information and see what the art is telling you. The afterwards are just as powerful as what has come before it.
For ages 13 to adult. While younger readers could read, the subject matter of the mother’s drug use, absences, language and the fact the grandparents are very realistic (sometimes too realistic and one wonders how Krosoczka did not come out of his childhood with more emotional scars) can be too much. The sensitive readers also might have difficulty with the content. With that said, it is all handled respectfully, realistically and not sugar coated, but not graphically.