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Kimchi & Calamari Hardcover – April 10, 2007


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 750L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1 edition (April 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060837691
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060837693
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,737,446 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4-7–Joseph Calderaro is facing many woes typical of a 14-year-old boy. However, trouble with girls, school, his younger twin sisters, and his parents is complicated by his growing awareness of the gulf between his Korean ethnicity and the Italian heritage of his adoptive family, especially his father. A school assignment is the catalyst for his search for information about his birth family. Communication between father and son reaches a low point when Joseph refuses to wear his birthday present of a corno (golden horn), proudly worn by Italian men to ward off the malocchio. His father insists that Joseph became Italian the day he was adopted. This lack of sensitivity is presented sympathetically, as the Calderaros can only focus on the joy of their bonding. The boy's status as a well-liked student and honest guy is jeopardized when he claims a famous Korean marathoner as his grandfather. A subplot involves an immigrant family from Korea, the Hans. Joseph's parents eventually appreciate his search for his identity, and they reach out to the Hans to help him learn about his culture. Kent has done an excellent job of creating a likable protagonist whose confusion about his status is touching, and also funny. This is one of the best of the recent spate of books about adolescent adoptees facing quests to establish their identities.–Deborah Vose, Highlands Elementary School, Braintree, MA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Fourteen-year-old Korean adoptee Joseph Calderaro is stumped when his social studies teacher assigns an ancestry essay. Joseph knows very little about his background (and his parents are not very forthcoming with details), so he pretends that Olympic marathoner Sohn Kee Chung was his grandfather, and creates an award-winning essay to that effect. Once his lie is unmasked, however, Joseph must redo the assignment, which prompts him to begin a committed search for his birth family. Kent's debut novel humorously captures the feelings of a young teen who thoroughly enjoys his Italian-American family but still wonders about his birth parents and the circumstances that led to his abandonment. His search ultimately leads him to a young woman who may be his cousin. Subplots involving Joseph's younger sisters, crushes on several girls in his class, and a new Korean friend round out the action and keep the story light. This will have special appeal for adoptees, but the questions about family roots that Kent raises are universal. Kay Weisman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Rose Kent is a native Long Islander who spent her summers in the great state of Maine. She is a former naval officer who also worked for a major food corporation. Rose's first middle-grade novel, Kimchi & Calamari (HarperCollins Publishers) was inspired by her adopted children from Korea. Kimchi & Calamari has been nominated for the NY Charlotte Award, the Rebecca Caudill Young Readers' Award, and the Florida Sunshine State Young Readers Award.

Rocky Road, (Knopf Books) comes out in June 2010, and is set in an ice cream shop in Schenectady. Preview the book trailer

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKtzyH-qN9w

Visit Rose Kent at www.RoseKent.com




Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 15 customer reviews
This is a book that should be on everyone's reading list.
Eric Luper
The characters are real, the plot engaging and heartwarming, and the interaction between the characters are as real and funny as in my own home.
Jean M. Spiegelhalter
"Kimchi & Calamari" is a thought-provoking novel written for the middle school crowd.
Judy K. Polhemus

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By KSL on September 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I first picked up this book because it sounded interesting and because our daughter is adopted and I know eventually she'll come home one day from school with homework on her family tree or heritage. I really liked this book and liked how the main character Joseph did his final paper on how he is a ethnic sandwich... being Korean on the outside and Italian on the inside. I enjoyed learning about Korea, a little about it's culture and the great Olympian Sohn Kee Chung.

This would be a terrific book for adopted children, teachers to read themselves and out loud to their class. As well as for all teachers to realize there are other ways to do the Family Tree / Heritage papers. With Korean children I think that it's neat that there is a way for Korean children to find siblings and parents.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Robinson on November 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
It's tough to be adopted, wondering which of your personality traits and physical characteristics came from someone you've never even met. It's even harder when you're Korean, and your family is Italian-American (including your much younger twin sisters, who are not adopted). To have your social studies teacher go and assign an essay about tracing your family heritage feels like having salt rubbed into a wound. And to have that essay assigned on your fourteenth birthday, well, that's just icing on the cake.

For New Jersey eighth grader Joseph Calderaro, the heritage essay ignites a passion for research into his birth family - a difficult search, given that he was found in Pusan, abandoned by the waterfront in a police station parking lot. The research doesn't sit so well with Joseph's proud Italian-American father, however, provoking family discord and internal conflict. In many ways, Joseph's quest is every teen's quest, to understand where he fits into the world and how he's both part of and unique from his family. In Joseph's case, however, the stakes are higher, and some of the necessary information is missing.

Fortunately for the reader of Rose Kent's debut novel, Kimchi & Calamari, Joseph's cultural identify quest is lightened considerably by being juxtaposed against another important coming of age quest: to secure a date for the Farewell Formal. We also see Joseph goofing around during band practice (he plays the drums), taking care of and being annoyed by his younger sisters, and exchanging jokes with his friend Robyn. These scenes keep Joseph real and accessible for all readers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kanna Hoki on February 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I read this wonderful book in a few hours and couldn't wait to share it with one of my classes. It is both funny and sad at times. A few tears were shed at the adoption "classifieds," but I finished it with a sense of contentment. A great book. After reading the first chapter, one of my students was so happy that I read a book about another Korean. He couldn't stop saying that he was Korean too.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By D. Williams on July 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Joseph Calderaro is a pretty typical 8th grader. He also happens to be adopted. He was abandoned in Korea as a baby and adopted by an Italian-American family from New Jersey.

When his social studies teacher assigns an ancestry essay, Joseph begins to examine who he is - and to ask questions he has never asked before, questions that his adoptive parents may not be willing or able to answer.

At first, Joseph's parents don't understand his confusion about his identity. After a few struggles, they begin to support his search for his roots.

A sensitive portrayal of common issues faced by adoptive families.
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By belen on July 30, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
VERY GOOD BOOK FOR KIDS,AND FAMILY, AND MY SON LOVES IT,HAVE A LOT VOCABULARY AND HAS A LOT OF DETAILS.
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By Raq on July 17, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great book for young people that are trying to identify their multiethnic background. It was also a fun,easy, and fast read.
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By Willow on August 4, 2010
Format: Paperback
Joseph Calderaro is one mixed-up 14-year-old ever since his teacher asked the class to write about their ancestry. This contemporary book for middle school readers takes a unique look at adoption: Joseph was born to Korean parents and adopted by an Italian-American family. What can he write about? His father urges him to tell about his Italian grandfather, but he isn't exactly Italian. On the other hand, when he meets a woman from Korea who learns that he can't speak Korean, he feels that her hostile look means he's just a "fake Korean."

He asks his mother about his Korean parents, but learns that his adoptive parents were only told the place where he was found. In fact, no one involved in the adoption knows anything about the birth parents.

Now what? Joseph needs to write the essay, but he can't figure out what he can possibly say about his ancestors. He starts reading books on the history of Korea and learns about a Korean hero who ran the marathon at the 1936 Olympics. He had to compete under Japan's flag because Japan had invaded Korea, but even so, he won the gold medal. Joseph is inspired and writes a great essay about him.

And says the Olympic medal winner was his grandfather.

He would have gotten away with it, except his essay wins first place. And the best essay will be entered in a national contest. Even if he doesn't confess to his parents and his teacher, his lie will soon be exposed.

Meanwhile, the books about Korea have made him want to know about his birth parents. One of his friends puts an ad on a Korean adoption website and before long he gets an answer. Can it be he'll soon find out about his Korean parents?
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