Scholastic Audiobooks won the 2020 Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production for the audiobook adaption of Hey, Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction. It is fantastic. The audiobook is read by the author, Jarrett Krosoczka, and a full cast that includes friends and family featured in the book, his real-life art teachers, and offspring of friends and family playing their younger selves. There's music from the various time periods and it's easy to immerse yourself in Jarrett's story. Even though the book spans more than 20 years, the audiobook is just under three hours listening time and I felt like it flew by.
Hey, Kiddo is a graphic novel masterpiece and a 2018 National Book Award Finalist. It details what it's like for a kid growing up with a mom who's an addict and how as a little kid, you love your parents unconditionally and don't understand what's going on. As you grow older, you become more aware and depending on your support system, things can go really wrong if a parent is incarcerated, in rehab or experiencing other difficult and life altering situations. Jarrett is very young when he's removed from the home and adopted by his paternal grandfather. He grew up with grandparents and teenage aunts and uncles in the same home, went to Catholic school and developed his artistic talent through cartooning at an afterschool program and by working on the school newspaper. The color palette of the book and way that memorabilia like the decorative pineapple wallpaper from his grandparents' home is incorporated into the art is distinctive and comforting.
The book is considered Young Adult but younger kids, like Jarrett himself at the time, are living in similar situations. School age kids may be familiar with Jarrett as the author and illustrator of the popular Lunch Lady series and Star Wars Jedi Academy graphic novels and find comfort in knowing that someone they "know" and admire achieved his dreams in spite of difficult circumstances growing up. I recommend reading the graphic novel before listening to the audiobook - both versions are available on Overdrive. I think it heightens the experience of the audiobook and provides greater appreciation for the book at the same time. Both are exceptional and essential.