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Kimchi & Calamari

3.63  ·  Rating details ·  1,277 ratings  ·  219 reviews
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 h
Hardcover, 220 pages
Published April 10th 2007 by HarperCollins (first published April 1st 2007)
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Average rating 3.63  · 
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 ·  1,277 ratings  ·  219 reviews

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Sara ♥
Nov 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Korea enthusiasts, People interested in adoption/adoption stories
This book was really lovely.

The thing that initially attracted me to the book is the fact that Joseph is Korean. I lived in Korea during my senior year of high school, and LOVED it... and I enjoy any and all positive references to Korean culture, language, food, etc. I loved that he was from Pusan, which is pretty close to where I lived when I was there.

So the premise of the story is essentially: Joseph, a Korean boy, is adopted as a baby by an Italian-American family. He's raised pretty Italia
Rose Kent's Kimchi and Calamari features Joseph Calderero; a Korean 8th Grader raised by his adoptive Italian parents from infancy.

I picked this up hoping to learn more about Korean culture. I learned 2 new things; although small in quantity, they depict aspects of Korean culture well.

(1) I learned how poorly pregnant women without husbands may be treated in Korea. I don't know if these kinds of perceptions have changed since the 70s, 80s, 90s ish era.

(2) I learned that adoption is not discusse
Ashley Robles
Nov 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Adopted! Have you ever questioned or thought you were adopted?What if you looked different from everyone in your family and not know anything about your birth parents or really know who you are and where you came from when you look in the mirror.The book Kimchi and Calamari by, Rose Kent is a wonderful book that I have read.This great book is realistic fiction and you will never want to put this book down.

In the novel kimchi and Calamari you meet Duk-kee also known as Joseph, Joseph is a Korean
A really wonderful book about a Korean boy and his adopted, Italian family. Joseph's search for identity is well-written and well-paced.

My favorite scene is near the end where Joseph's typically bratty sisters smuggle ice cream to cheer him up. That is what family is for!

I highly recommend this one, especially for middle school readers.
Cindy Hudson
Jun 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Joseph Calderaro is an “eighth-grade optimist” whose “bag of barbecue chips is always half full.” That is until he has a lousy 14th birthday and his teacher assigns a 1,500-word paper called Tracing Your Past: A Heritage Essay. The only trouble is, Joseph is adopted. Fourteen years ago he was left on the steps of a police station in Korea. His adopted parents are Italians living in New Jersey, and while he knows he’s a Calderaro, he feels he can’t claim the Italian heritage as his own.

Kimchi and
Alan 김 승 주
Apr 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book shows the pros and cons of being adopted. Joseph feels as if he is smooshed between his original ancestry, Korean, and his adopted race, Italian. This book also shows us how it feels to be adopted and it helps us understand more about adoption.
Jun 13, 2016 rated it liked it
At first, I wasn't really into the MC's personality. Once I got to know him and his story I began to really care. This is about adoption so there were moments where Joseph felt unwanted or like he wasn't really his parents kids. I got pretty teary eyed towards the end because of reasons... I've always felt that adoption was something I might like to do in the future, but I wouldn't want my child questioning whether they were my kid or not which I could that the parents felt the same. There was a ...more
Sandi Van
Jan 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
A lovely story that opened up the dialogue between me and my son, who was adopted from Korea (and has an Italian - American family on my side). Suggested for preteen and up adoptees as it deals with some deeper emotional issues.
Dec 18, 2008 rated it liked it
Unique insight into adoption, completely comical...
Emily Waller
Apr 10, 2020 rated it it was ok
This is an interesting perspective, but it’s a totally predictable story that I found boring. I think predictable stories are fine, but what happens between the beginning and the end better really catch the audience’s attention, which is what is missing here. I do like the intro-level education about Korean culture, and I see how that is valuable. I also think adoption is not a perspective we honor in YA lit often, so it’s nice to see there are stories out there that can act as a mirror or windo ...more
Jun 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Adoptees, their families, and anyone else interested in this subject
In all my years of reading books, I have never come across a book that dealt with being adopted, at least from a teenager's point of view, until this wonderful, fantastic novel. I originally bought it for my classroom because I thought some of my students would find it an interesting read. Instead, it sat in the room untouched until about two weeks ago when I began giving away books to my students. I decided to keep this one and read it myself, and boy am I glad I made that decision. This book r ...more
3 stars. Grades 3-6. Disappointing story about a Korean adoptee raised in a loving, very Italian family. Joseph Calderaro is as happy as a kid has a right to be until a homework assignment, an essay about family heritage, turns him inside out. Frustration is added to his confusion when his parents are less than forthcoming about his adoption details. A Korean family moves in nearby and Joseph begins to feel he's not a "real" Korean but he's obviously not Italian either. And what about his birth ...more
Ally B.
Nov 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Book: Kimchi and Calamari By Rose Kent 4 star rating

Happy Birthday! Correction, unhappy birthday. That is how Joseph feels in the story, Kimchi and Calamari by Rose Kent. This book was funny with a certain curiosity that left you hungry for more. The family ties in this story are really the definition of love, though every story has it’s quirks.
Joseph is Korean, but was adopted into a big, boisterous Italian family. Joseph feels a little stuck in the middle of each nationality because you can t
Elainna K
Oct 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Do any of us really know who we are? Well if you ever questioned who you are then this is a good book for you. The book Kimchi and Calamari by Rose Kent is a great story about a boy questioning many things. I liked the book and give it a four and a half stars out of five, but you be the judge of the book.

Kimchi and Calamari wow, that sounds like a quirky food. This dish consists of Korean and Italian cuisines, this is how Joseph Calderaro feels about himself.

Joseph has to write an essay on hi
Keira Sporing
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
When I first saw the cover of Kimchi and Calamari, I was instantly pleased. The bright colors and soothing description made me interested in reading it. When I started to read this novel, I was very compelled. The details Rose Kent used (such as when Joseph's Aunt Foxy comes into the story.) really blew me away.
If you have never read it, Kimchi and Calamari is about a boy named Joseph who is in middle school. He had a big project about his family tree, but being adopted from Korea as a baby ma
This book took me forever to read, but only because it seems like I don't ever have time to read print. And when I do start to read print, I fall asleep! So this one came in slow chunks, and then I finally had a doctor's appointment that allowed me to get the last 1/4 done during the waiting time. The book was OK. I didn't think it was marvelous, and sometimes the character seemed more like he was 11 than 14. But then, maybe I just don't know what it was like to be a 14-year old boy. (There's a ...more
Apr 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Really fun read about 14-year-old Joseph, adopted as an infant from Korea into a thoroughly Italian family. When his teacher assigns an essay on heritage, Joseph struggles to figure out what he should write and who he really is. Joseph is a smart, funny, and very likeable kid. Without giving away any big details, I will mention that a potential future trip to Korea is talked about at the end of the book so I really hope Kent will follow up with that and favor us with a sequel.

Again, without bein
Jan 17, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s-books
I read this book so that I could lead a book club discussion at the English Language Learners' Center where I volunteer. Although Kimchi & Calamari is written for children in 4th grade through 8th, it is a good read for adults learning English as it is written for readers at a 3rd to 5th grade reading level. The story centers on Joseph, an ethnically Korean boy who is adopted by an Italian-American family. When his social studies teacher assigns an essay to the class about their ethnic origins, ...more
Jan 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: asian-american
During Social Studies class, eighth grader Joseph Calderero is assigned to write a research essay about his ancestors. Mrs. Peroutka says that ancestors are your personal link to yesterday. This topic is confusing and very challenging to Joseph who was born in Korea and adopted soon after by a caring Italian American family. Even though he is treated as a true member of the family, he is curious about his Korean roots. Kimchi and Calamari is the story of Joseph’s journey of self-discovery in whi ...more
Jan 08, 2010 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 1-star
While references to spicy Italian and Korean food abound, this book was just plain bland. Joseph is a Korean-American adoptee, in an Italian-American family. An assignment given by his social studies teacher, conveniently instigates Joseph's search for information about his birth parents and Korean culture. Pretty formulaic, though it did make for an interesting discussion of culture and identity with elementary students.
Osamagbe Osagie
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a must have for all elementary and middle school educators. I’ve been looking high and low for books that speak to my students who are transracial adoptees and this one is perfect. I really appreciate how the author was able to build empathy for the both the birth relatives and the main character. Can’t wait to buy a physical copy and add it to my library!
Ms. Jackson
May 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Joseph is a Korean boy adopted into an Italian family. He's trying to figure out his place in the world as he navigates eighth grade, girls, and trying to find his birth family.
Anna Smithberger
My previous assessment that this reads like a mom wrote it stands. It doesn't sound convincingly like a 14 year old boy and I just really wasn't into it.
A school project on heritage has 8th grader Joseph struggling to find his identity as a Korean adopted by Italians in NJ. Confronts many TCK issues in an engaging and fun read. I really enjoyed Kent's writing, and Joseph felt like a very real kid to me.
May 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I think the theme of this book is, never give up on something your curious about. Always keep going until you fulfill what you're looking for.
Dec 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great portrayal of the challenges that interracial adoptees face. Light and funny moments are balanced with pensive reflection.
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It's a book about an Korean adoptee which I can relate to. I think it's a good book. You might to if you dont judge it's over
May 30, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: readers of multicultural literature and identity formation fiction.
Joseph Calderero, eighth-grade optimist, has a life that’s running along as satisfyingly as a fully carbonated beverage. His family loves him, his friends support him, and he’s got a rapier wit that girls go for (or so he hopes since the Farewell Formal is imminent). As a Korean boy who has been raised by an Italian-American family he soon finds that he will need his optimism, his family, his friends, and his wit to keep his identity from fizzling into flatness when his multiple cultures inescap ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ryan S.
Dec 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
"Kimchi and Calamari," created by Rose Kent, is a multiracial realistic fiction book in which the main character, Joseph (aka Duk-kee) Calderaro, encounters a school assignment which changes his life. It all began when his social studies teacher, Mrs.Peroutka, had assigned the eight grade honors class a 1500 word essay about their ancestry. Since Joseph was an adopted Korean boy in an Italian life, he had no clue who his real family was. After a long investigation, he decided to make a fake essa ...more
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