Beloved by millions of readers in Southeast Asia, Kampung Boy is a humorous, fictionalized graphic memoir about a Muslim boy growing up in Malaysia.
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 study, 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 gradually replacing family farms and rubber small-holders. When Mat himself leaves for boarding school, he can only hope that his familiar kampung will still be there when he returns.
Kampung Boy is hilarious and affectionate, with brilliant, super-expressive artwork that opens a window into a world that has now nearly vanished.
“Kampung Boy is a pleasure to read. . . . American audiences are lucky to finally receive this international classic.” —Library Journal
“The story has a warm assumption of insider status and an emphasis on universally understandable experiences (horsing around with friends, evading authority) that makes it a more intimately involving tale than those that carefully explain their daily realities to distant readers. . . . This companionable chronicle achieves that rare thing in an international title: making readers feel like they're hanging out with a friend halfway around the world.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Starred Review
“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. . . . Intriguing and edifying.” —Kirkus Reviews
“[Readers] 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. . . . With humor and affection, Lat makes the exotic kampung feel familiar. All ages.” —Publisher's Weekly
“Lat is a superstar in Asia where his artwork is collected avidly. [His] tasteful, laid back style that matches the time and the place perfectly. This is one of the few books that feature historical details about Muslims in an easily approachable style.” —The Michigan Reading Journal
“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. . . . The original and exceptional artwork is sweet, playful, expressive, and energetically animated. It is a delightfully fun read.” —VOYA
“Everything is wonderfully detailed in [Lat's] scribbly black-and-white sketches; each page is crammed with heavy inked action scenes, which are explained in simple but eloquent prose. . . . Filled with humor and affection, the book is a delight; readers will enjoy it not only as an introduction to a well-known Southeast Asian artist but also a story of boyhood that encompasses both universals and the specifics of a time and place.” —Booklist
“This is the type of graphic novel librarians will love. . . . Younger readers will like Lat's cartoon-y style, which emphasizes facial features and movements; 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.” —Kliatt