Born in NY; married; husband's name Tom; children: Connor, Theresa, four other children. Education: U.S. Naval Academy, graduate. Hobbies and other interests: Running.
Children's book author. U.S. Navy, naval officer, served five years; former manager of a public-relations firm.
Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
Kimchi and Calamari, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2007.
Describing herself as "a hopeless foodie," upstate New York writer Rose Kent was inspired to write her first novel, Kimchi and Calamari, by her son Connor, who was adopted at birth from South Korea. The novel "came from a place where I was reflecting on family and identity and race—and what happens when they all merge," Kent explained to PaperTigers.org interviewer Aline Pereira. "I chose to get to know a lovable, quirky boy named Joseph and tell his story. And as I got to know him better, the themes that matter to me appeared along the way."
In Kimchi and Calamari, readers meet fourteen-year-old Joseph Calderaro. Adopted at birth by American parents of Italian descent, Joseph is Korean, but his ethnic ancestry has never been the topic of much conversation in his busy family. However, when a social-studies teacher assigns the class a writing project that involves a discussion of cultural heritage, the teen has to think fast. Working on his essay in between drum lessons and band practice, homework assignments, a slowly budding romance, and activities with family and friends, Joseph decides to take a creative approach. He writes an essay that casts Olympic marathon runner Sohn Kee Chung in the role of his grandfather. When the ruse is revealed, however, it is back to the keyboard for Joseph, and through his own search he gradually discovers both his cultural roots and possible members of his birth family.
Reviewing Kimchi and Calamari for Booklist, Kay Weisman praised Kent's "humorous" text for bringing to life a typical eighth grader's search for self as well as for highlighting "questions about family roots that … are universal." Because the author addresses not only Joseph's dilemma, but also the mixed feelings of his parents as their own Italian traditions are rejected, a Kirkus Reviews writer observed that Kimchi and Calamari "does justice to complex issues," while Joseph works his magic as "a funny, engaging tour guide to the world of transcultural adoption." Praising the novel as among "the best" books to date dealing with adopted teens coming to terms with their cultural heritage, Deborah Vose concluded in School Library Journal that "Kent has done an excellent job of creating a likable protagonist whose confusion about his status is touching, and also funny." Calling the first-time novelist both upbeat and honest in her depiction of "the issues of international adoption," Kliatt writer Claire Rosser recommended Kimchi and Calamari "for middle-school students like Joseph who are searching for information to understand who they are."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, February 15, 2007, Kay Weisman, review of Kimchi and Calamari, p. 78.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, June, 2007, Deborah Stevenson, review of Kimchi and Calamari, p. 425.
Kirkus Reviews, April 1, 2007, review of Kimchi and Calamari.
Kliatt, March, 2007, Claire Rosser, review of Kimchi and Calamari, p. 15.
School Library Journal, May, 2007, Deborah Vose, review of Kimchi and Calamari, p. 136.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), June 23, 2007, Mary Harris Russell, review of Kimchi and Calamari, p. 7.
Class of 2k7 Web site,http://classof2k7.com/ (March 28, 2008), "Rose Kent."
Cynsations,http://cynthialeitichsmith.blogspot.com/ (April 5, 2007), Cynthia Leitich Smith, interview with Kent.
Paper Tigers Web site,http://www.papertigers.org/ (May 1, 2007), Aline Pereira, interview with Kent.
Rose Kent Home Page,http://www.rosekent.com (March 25, 2008).