Throughout life, we all undertake the universal journey to explore our identity, a rite of passage that can take on many forms. For Pedro Martín, this journey started with a family road trip to Mexico, one that would uncover his heritage and family secrets as he reconnected with his Mexican American roots in Mexikid: A Graphic Memoir.
From the opening pages, we meet Petro (Peter), the fourth child in a family of nine, who indulges in a carefree world of reading comic books, playing with superhero action figures, and watching episodes of the sitcom tv show Happy Days (his idol is the Fonz). The year is 1977, and one day his family decides to hit the road and embark on a 2000-mile trip from their home in Watsonville, California to Jalisco, Mexico to pick up their Abuelito so he can live with them. They hop into their Winnebago motorhome and launch into their adventure. On this trip, stories are exchanged and the heroic feats of Abuelito running a mule train to bring food to warring sides during the Mexican Revolution era come to life. Lively dialogue interspersed with Spanish fill the pages—supplemented in part by occasional translated footnotes—blending in esoteric facts drawn from family stories, history, and culture.
Unfolding like a travelogue packed with cultural tidbits, this graphic memoir delves into a fascinating foray of one Mexican American family’s history and culture loaded with humor, drama, and charm. At the same time, Martín grapples with his bi-cultural heritage especially since his older siblings tease him about his inauthentic roots, having been born in the US. The text-laden panels burst with tons of cultural richness. From the vibrant musical rhythms of Chun-Ta-Ta to the romancing courtship rituals of Serenata (serenade), Martín piles on nuggets of information that infuse the narrative with intriguing insight. The back matter also features photos of his family, Mexican slang, and other fun facts that led to the crafting of his illustrious memoir.
Vibrant colors of gold and yellow accentuate Martín’s childhood escapades, while soft watercolor palettes with lighter shades signify distant flashback memories. Ben-Day dots reminiscent of pulp comics from the 1950s-1960s highlight Abuelito’s mythic adventures. The artwork and coloring is as robust as the text, capturing a multigenerational panoply of history and culture woven through stories past and present. Covering themes of identity, heritage, history, and family secrets, Mexikid adds to the ever-expansive voices of color in middle grade graphic memoir collections, one that offers a unique opportunity for Mexican Americans to tell their stories and speak their own truth and experiences.
Mexikid A Graphic Memoir
By Pedro Martín
Dial Books, 2023
Publisher Age Rating: 10-14
NFNT Age Recommendation: Tween (10-13)
Creator Representation: Mexican-American
Character Representation: Mexican-American