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Kimchi & Calamari by Rose Kent

Kimchi & Calamari

by Rose Kent

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A decent read about a kid adopted transnationally from Korea by an Italian family in New Jersey. Kid searches for his ethnic and family identity, etc. I found it interesting because of the subject matter, but there were several subplots that weren't followed through to their conclusion, which was a bit frustrating. Perhaps the author is leaving room for a sequel. Also, both the Italian and the Korean family featured were quite stereotyped. Interesting but not great. ( )
  Marared9 | Feb 5, 2012 |
This is a humorous, touching story about Joseph, a 14-year-old boy, and his journey for self-acceptance and ancestral understanding. When Joseph was just a few days old, he was abandoned and left in a basket in the city of Pusan, Korea. Joseph was subsequently adopted and raised by a traditional Italian New Jersey family. Joseph is forced to confront his heritage when his English teacher assigns an ancestral history paper. Joseph fabricates a fake story about his ancestors, who in reality he knows nothing about. The story centers on Joseph's growing curiosity about his Korean roots, his quest to find answers, and reconciling his Italian-American upbringing with his Korean appearance-- all the while gaining the attention and affection of his crush interest, Kelly. An enjoyable book that adolescents of all backgrounds can relate to. ( )
  DayehSensei | Jul 21, 2011 |
Personal Response:

Kent is a funny, touching writer. Adolescents trying to figure out their own lives will relate to Joseph as he struggles to find who he is and how he fits into the world. Joseph cheats on his essay, but he is honorable enough to come forward with the truth, regardless of the consequences. Joseph’s relationship with Kelly is truthful, as he moves from infatuation to excitement at taking her out to the realization that looks are not everything.

Curricular or Programming Connections:

Students could write their own versions of the Tracing Your Past: A Heritage Essay assignment that Joseph is given, writing about their own families
  hsollom | Aug 9, 2010 |
Reviewed by Randstostipher "tallnlankyrn" Nguyen for TeensReadToo.com

Believing that his fourteenth birthday will be the best one yet, Joseph Calderaro will be amazed at how quickly it turns sour.

It all happens during second period. After turning in his project on flag burning, Joseph thinks the assignment will be over, especially since it is May and June is just around the corner. But before the last ten minutes of class is up, his teacher assigns a 1,500-word essay about ancestors. Sure, it may seem like an easy one to write. Not for Joseph, though.

Joseph may have an Italian last name; he is anything but. His parents adopted him when they went over to Korea, and Joseph only knows the Italian side of him, which you could say isn't the true side of him. Adopted at such a young age, Joseph has no idea who his ancestors are or who his birth mother is.

Joseph doesn't mind eating calamari and cannoli frosting on a chocolate cake. He just gets a little uncomfortable when his father wants him to show off their Italian heritage, since is just isn't his.

His journey on writing his essay isn't an easy start, especially since the only help his father can give him is his parent's stories, and Joseph has heard them all.

With ancestors to discover, a girl to win over, a new student who will take him on a journey to discover his heritage, and parents who aren't much help but still love him, Joseph is in for the ride of his life. One that will help him see that being both Korean and Italian isn't bad at all.

Wonderfully written, KIMCHI & CALAMARI will take readers on an adventure that they will never forget. The novel shows how having two heritages is absolutely wonderful and that what matters the most is what we learn from it, how we enrich our lives with it. KIMCHI & CALAMARI is one novel that I will never forget. ( )
  GeniusJen | Oct 11, 2009 |
Recommended Ages: Gr. 6-9

Plot Summary: Joseph is a Korean adopted into a very Italian family. When Joseph is assigned a school project asking him to write about his heritage, he goes through an identity crisis. His best friend tries to help him find his birth mom. After Joseph turns in a paper describing his "grandfather" (a famous gold medal athlete from Korea), his teacher allows him to rewrite it.

Setting: New York suburb(?), modern day

Characters: Joseph C - 8th grade
Gina and Sophie - Joseph's twin sisters, second graders
Pete Nash - Joseph's best friend
Kelly - Joseph's crush
Robyn - Joseph's date to formal

Recurring Themes: adoption, family, friendship,

Controversial Issues: none

Personal Thoughts: This first half of this book dragged a little bit for me but it picked up. I'm torn about thinking the narrative was a little inauthentic. For example, Gina and Sophie occasionally acted more sophisticated than their age. In addition, Joseph is a nice guy who helps old women cross the street and isn't afraid to hang out with his family in public, yet he still has some conflicts with his family. Joseph is not afraid to call a complete adult stranger and become friends with her. Joseph's teacher lets him get off easy after blatantly lying in an essay. As I was reading it, I thought the ending was going to be obvious, but I was pleasantly surprised. I was glad Joseph didn't end up finding his real birth mother so easily. Overall, this book was better by the end, and it had enough of a happy ending but it wasn't the perfect ending I expected it to be from the beginning. ( )
  pigeonlover | Aug 13, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060837691, Hardcover)

Kimchi and calamari. It sounds like a quirky food fusion of Korean and Italian cuisine, and it's exactly how Joseph Calderaro feels about himself. Why wouldn't an adopted Korean drummer—comic book junkie feel like a combo platter given:

(1) his face in the mirror

(2) his proud Italian family.

And now Joseph has to write an essay about his ancestors for social studies. All he knows is that his birth family shipped his diapered butt on a plane to the USA. End of story. But what he writes leads to a catastrophe messier than a table of shattered dishes—and self-discovery that Joseph never could have imagined.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:18 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Adopted from Korea by Italian parents, fourteen-year-old Joseph Calderaro begins to make important self-discoveries about race and family after his social studies teacher assigns an essay on cultural heritage and tracing the past.

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