The author of the Lunch Lady graphic novel series will write about growing up with a mother who struggled with addiction
If you’re an adult, you might know Jarrett Krosoczka from his 2012 TED Talk about being raised by his grandparents while his mother, an addict, was in prison. If you know kids — or are well-versed in the world of kids’ literature — perhaps you’ve read his Star Wars: Jedi Academy books, Lunch Lady series, or numerous other picture books. Now, EW can announce exclusively that Krosoczka is distilling his life story into a graphic memoir called Hey, Kiddo, to be published by Scholastic’s Graphix imprint.
The book will cover his unconventional upbringing, as mentioned above, and how that led him to seek solace in art — and also seek out his birth father.
“I have been working on or thinking about this book since I was first published in my early 20s and now, as I approach 40 at the end of this year, my graphic memoir is finally becoming a reality,” Krosoczka tells EW. “Writing Hey, Kiddo has been both emotionally fraught and cathartic. I wrote about those I held animosity toward with sensitivity, and wrote about those who I adored with honesty.”
The process wasn’t without tragedy. “In the course of revising the manuscript, my mother died of a fatal heroin overdose,” he says. “While the events surrounding her passing came as no surprise, the weight of the timing was not something that I could ignore. As much as I always knew that I was writing this book for kids like me — kids who grew up surrounded by addiction — I was also writing this book for my mother. She never wanted to live with addiction and always wanted to help others coping with the illness.”
Krosoczka’s first time speaking publicly about his upbringing was during that now-famous TED Talk. “While that video went viral worldwide, I connected with so many whose families have been negatively impacted by addiction,” he says. “It’s an affliction that crosses all boundaries — gender, race, socioeconomic status — there hasn’t been a part of this country where somebody hasn’t pulled me aside to share their experiences with it.”
Below, EW can exclusively share sketches from Hey, Kiddo. The book is due out in Fall 2018.