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Kampung Boy

Kampung Boy

5.0 1
by Lat (Illustrator)

Here begins Lat's Kampung Boy series, a timeless favorite of millions of readers in Southeast Asia, available at last in the U.S. With masterful economy worthy of Charles Schultz, Lat recounts the life of Mat, a Muslim boy growing up in rural Malaysia in the 1950s: his adventures and mischief-making, fishing trips, religious education, and work on his family


Here begins Lat's Kampung Boy series, a timeless favorite of millions of readers in Southeast Asia, available at last in the U.S. With masterful economy worthy of Charles Schultz, Lat recounts the life of Mat, a Muslim boy growing up in rural Malaysia in the 1950s: his adventures and mischief-making, fishing trips, religious education, and work on his family's rubber plantation. Meanwhile, the traditional way of life in his village (or kampung) is steadily disappearing, with tin mines and factory jobs increasingly overtaking the village's agricultural way of life. When Mat himself leaves for boarding school, he can only hope that his familiar kampung will still be there when he returns.

The first in a delightful series, Kampung Boy is hilarious and affectionate, with brilliant, super-expressive artwork that opens a window into a world that has now nearly vanished.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publishers Weekly
Malaysian comics creator Lat makes his American debut with this down-to-earth account of childhood in a Southeast Asian kampung, or village. His black-and-white text resembles a chronological sketchbook, with stilt-houses and jungle plants inked on each page, and handwritten text explaining events and customs. Impatient readers might wish for a glossary or map: "I was born in a kampung in the heart of the world's largest tin-mining district-the Kinta Valley in Perak," says the narrator, and leaves it at that. But most will enjoy the protagonist's casual chronicle of rites of passage such as a hair-shaving ceremony ("adat cukur kepala"), lessons in the Koran at age six, the Bersunat (circumcision) ceremony at age 10, and a trip to the movies circa 1960. From the window of his house, he sees a rubber plantation and hears the "distant roaring sound... of a tin dredge." Later, Constable Mat Saman, a Barney Fife-like zealot toting an automatic rifle, chases villagers who pan the river for saleable tin scraps. Lat's adults have narrow chests and slouch pelvis-first, while mischievous children canoe, dive and fish in the river. This first in a projected series ends on a to-be-continued note, with the narrator leaving for boarding school and already homesick for the kampung. Lat's loose, laid-back stories of Muslim family life and school should appeal to Marjane Satrapi fans; with humor and affection, Lat makes the exotic kampung feel familiar. All ages. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA - Ava Ehde
This outstanding graphic novel chronicles the early adventures of Mat, a conventional Muslim boy, and his family and friends. Mat is an exuberant and expressive character much adored by his affectionate family and the often-hilarious villagers. His high-spirited escapades with his friends, his sober religious education with the cane-wielding Tuan Syed, the moderate and sometimes scary customs of daily life, his maturation and occasional trouble at home, and eventually his eye-opening life at boarding school all portray a traditional life that has since nearly vanished. Lat reminds readers on every page of the energy and delight of childhood. The book breathes life into the themes of loyalty, ecology, family values, and societal customs. It pits the fading rural traditions of the Malaysian jungle village dependent upon rubber and agriculture in the 1950s against the quickly developing outside world. Mohammad Nor Khalid is a well known, beloved, and celebrated Malaysian cartoonist also known simply as Lat. He began his drawing career at age nine, was first published at thirteen, and in 1979 released his first autobiography in Malaysia, Kampung Boy. In 1994 he received the prestigious Malaysian honorific title Datuk. His gifted graphics, which are the embodiment of simplicity and innocent charm, are revealed in this first U.S. release. The original and exceptional artwork is sweet, playful, expressive, and energetically animated. It is a delightfully fun read, and it would be a welcome addition to any young adult collection.
KLIATT - George Galuschak
Kampung Boy relates the early childhood of Mat, a boy who grows up in a small village (called a kampung) in rural Malaysia. Mat attends Tuan Syed Amen's Koran reading class, fishes and swims with his friends, and goes dulang-washing at the back of a tin dredge. When he shows his family the tin he's panned, his father thrashes him for thievery. The biggest event of Mat's childhood is his circumcision ceremony, which takes place when he is ten years old. Mat is dressed in traditional garb, attends a huge feast (the entire kampung is invited), led to the river for a dip, and then circumcised on a banana trunk. In order to inherit his father's rubber plantation Mat must do well in his studies; Kampung Boy ends when he leaves for boarding school. This is the type of graphic novel librarians will love; I enjoyed the many interesting details of growing up in a Muslim family. Younger readers will like Lat's cartoon-y style, which emphasizes facial features and movement; the art reminds me of Matt Groening (who has a blurb on the cover). Kampung Boy contains cartoon nudity (no genitals), and is recommended for junior high and high school collections.
Kirkus Reviews
In a charming story of a young boy's life, Lat recounts his childhood living in a small village (or kampung) in Malaysia. Beginning in his infancy, the reader experiences Lat's life up to his later boyhood, when he leaves his family and familiarity to attend boarding school. In addition to sharing his memories, Lat pays close attention to the social mores and nuances of his culture, offering the reader a glimpse into a foreign life. A sweetly naturalistic memoir, this non-traditional graphic novel breaks free of the conventional boxy panel layout to richly extend the black and white illustrations over the pages, with most pages containing a single scene. The art is highly detailed, letting the reader linger over each page, enjoying the feel of experiencing life in another country. Besides offering up a smart cohesion of careful text with meticulous illustration, Lat offers his readers a unique perspective in his scenes; when drawing himself as a young boy, his settings are oversized and exaggerated, showing the reader that even in a small kampung, life can still loom large for a child. Intriguing and edifying, Lat's memoir is an endearing look at a foreign adolescence. (Graphic novel. YA)

Product Details

Wilkins Farago Pty, Limited
Publication date:

Meet the Author

One of the most beloved cartoonists in Southeast Asia, Lat published his first work when he was just thirteen years old. He has received numerous awards, including, in 1994, the prestigious Malaysian honorific title Datuk. Most recently he was honored by the Malaysian Press Institute with their Special Jury Award, given to "those who have contributed significantly to journalism and society and have become an institution in their own right."

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