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- ISBN: 9780060837716 (pbk.)
- ISBN: 0060837713 (pbk.)
- Physical Description: 220, 8 p. ; 20 cm.
- Edition: 1st pbk. ed.
- Publisher: New York : Harper, 2010, c2007.
Originally published: New York : HarperCollins, c2007. With additional material.
Teenaged Joseph Calderaro, who was adopted from Korea by Italian parents, 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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|Subject:||Korean Americans > Fiction
Adoption > Fiction
Family life > Fiction.
Korean Americans > Children's fiction.
Adoption > Children's fiction.
Family life > Children's fiction.
Kimchi and Calamari
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Kimchi and Calamari
Kimchi & Calamari Chapter One Not So Happy Birthday to Me You wake up and you're fourteen. The world is your supersized soda waiting to be guzzled, right? Wrong. My birthday tasted more like Coke that went flat. Make that flat Coke with cookie crumbs from my little sister's backwash. Not that I planned on a lousy birthday. After all, I'm Joseph Calderaro, eighth-grade optimist. The bag of barbecue chips is always half full in my mind. As I searched for my Yankees T-shirt that morning, I tapped out my favorite band tune with my drumsticks. I was ready to hit the halls of Johansen Middle School bursting with I'm-all-that attitude. I couldn't wait to hear "Happy Birthday to Joseph" chants from cute girls in the hallway between classes. And of course, I expected to uphold my family's tradition of gorging on my favorite dinner. Fried calamari. Eggplant Parmesan. Chocolate cake with gobs of cannoli frosting. Even the whines from Gina and Sophie couldn't ruin that meal. Little did I know that my burned Pop-Tart breakfast would be a sign of trouble ahead. Or that the day's events would spiral downward, just like that pastry--from strawberry frosted and gooey good to black-on-the-bottom and smoking bad. I should've known better, what with all the comic books I've read: villains wreak havoc when you least expect it. In this case, the villain struck during second period. I was tilting my desk chair back, feeling mighty proud of the "To Burn or Not to Burn" project I'd turned in, analyzing a constitutional amendment against flag desecration. I'd surrounded the poster's edges with flag toothpicks, and I'd taped power quotes from two Supreme Court justices. With ten minutes left in the period, Mrs. Peroutka started lecturing about the upcoming unit: immigration. I was still feeling thirsty and sweaty from the mile run in gym, never mind sleep deprived from gluing toothpicks until eleven thirty last night. Nothing Mrs. Peroutka said was keeping my attention, especially with that warm breeze rattling through the blinds. Nothing, that is, until she dropped a slab of cement on my head. It came in the form of a handout, but trust me, it caused quite the emotional concussion. "I have an assignment for you," she announced, with a diabolical twinkle in her eye. As soon as I read the top line of the paper, my heart started racing like I was back on the track running. Tracing Your Past: A Heritage Essay "Before we discuss the assignment, I'd like you to consider this: Who are your ancestors?" she asked. Next to me, fellow drummer Steve Nestor popped his arm straight up. "Dead people with your same last name?" Robyn Carleton chuckled in the back row. She appreciates all jokes, especially mine. "Indeed, our ancestors are dead and related," Mrs. Peroutka replied, "but they are much more than that. Each one of your families owns a patch on America's collective immigrant quilt: the dreams and the struggles of your kin who came before you. Ancestors are your personal link to yesterday." Ugh. Faces around the room looked pained. Honestly, who gives eighth graders an essay in May? Maybe fall, or even January, when you're guaranteed at least one snow day. But a May essay is a low blow, what with June around the corner, the month in which we break out of the middle-school penitentiary forever. Mrs. Peroutka droned on, her voice deep like a narrator on the History Channel. Then she gave us the dirty details. Required words: fifteen hundred. Double-spaced. Blah blah blah. She stood poised by the chalkboard, her hand clutching a pen in midair like the Statue of Liberty, and rambled on about digging out old photos and interviewing family members. But I tuned out right after hearing "your ancestors." I didn't know diddly about my ancestors. Right before the bell rang, Mrs. Peroutka told us the essay was part of a Celebrating Your Heritage campaign that had kids across America tracing their lineages back to over 175 countries. "Like that's supposed to make us want to join hands with other eighth graders from sea to shining sea," Steve whispered to me. After class I waited at the lockers for my buddy Nash, and we walked to the cafeteria together. I told him this birthday felt as lousy as the woodwinds playing "Rock with Bach." Nash is in band too--he plays trumpet--so he totally got what I meant. "I can't believe we have to do a social studies essay in May," I complained. He groaned. "How many words?" "Fifteen hundred." Nash uses the bazooka technique for writing papers. He strings together all these run-on sentences that stretch longer than a wad of bubblegum--just to hit the required word count. "What kind of teacher serves up a paper after a pro-ject?" Nash said, shaking his head. I told him the topic of the essay was part of the problem too. "You know what I wanted to tell Mrs. Peroutka? I don't need fifteen hundred words. Two will wrap it up nicely: I'm adopted." As soon as I sat down at the lunch table, more bad fortune revealed itself from under the plastic wrap. Mom had mixed up my sandwich with Gina's. I was stuck with peanut butter and banana slices, a hideous combo surely created to make POWs talk. Nash caught my disgusted look and stared down at my sandwich. "Yuck. That looks nasty. Poor you." "So much for special treatment on my birthday," I said. He passed me some pretzels. "Your lunch might stink, but at least your mom's making your favorite dinner, right?" I nodded, thinking about Mom in the kitchen slicing and salting eggplant and sprinkling cheese. She'd taken a day off from the hair salon to shop and cook. I shoved the sandwich back in the bag and bit into a pretzel. "You're right, Nash. I won't let old Peroutka be the Grinch who steals my birthday. So come over tonight ready for one grandioso Calderaro feast." Kimchi & Calamari . Copyright Â© by Rose Kent. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Kimchi and Calamari by Rose Kent All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.