By Ray Xu (Author)


Pub Date 1/30/2024

ISBN 9781454945857

Format Paperback


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For fans of Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese and Svetlana Chmakova’s Awkward, this funny yet poignant middle-grade coming-of-age story highlights the struggle of feeling invisible while yearning to be seen by all. 
Kevin Lee is having a really bad week. Although he lives in a crowded Toronto apartment above the family’s alterations and dry-cleaning store, he mostly goes unnoticed. School isn’t exactly an oasis either—being one of the few Asian kids makes for some unwelcome attention. But when Kevin’s class plans a trip to Thrill Planet, a spectacular theme park, will he finally have a chance to turn his life around, or will it just be another day for Kevin Lee?

Fans of middle school graphic novels exploring identity and self-esteem will appreciate the poignant yet humorous journey of finding one's place in the world, and readers who are looking for Asian representation in books will connect with Kevin's story of racism, bullying, and the immigrant experience. With its mix of family relationships, friendships, and a thrilling amusement park climax, this inspiring read is perfect for fans of humorous middle grade fiction with diverse characters overcoming obstacles.
"A busy, evocative slice of school life and the trials of a second-generation immigrant." —Kirkus

“Inspired by Xu's own experiences growing up in Toronto in the 1990s, this touching coming-of-age story comes through in playful artwork and offers excellent insight into the difficulties of middle school, especially if you already feel like an outsider. A great pick for fans of Pedro Martín's Mexikid.”—Bookpage

“Themes of sacrifice, survival, and love abound in a multidimensional story of navigating the bumpy terrain of family tensions and resilience across generations.”—Horn Book Magazine

“Kevin Lee’s story is hilarious and heartfelt, with semi-autobiographical elements from Xu’s childhood in Toronto in the ‘90s. Alterations is like the century egg Kevin eats: On the outside, it looks like a story about middle school drama, but once you bite in, you realize the family dynamics are the umami flavor you can’t ignore . . . . Semi-autobiographical graphic novels for middle grade readers are booming, and rightfully so. This one is a tad more fantastical than Dan Santat’s A First Time for Everything, and a bit more realistic than Yehudi Mercado’s Chunky, and it will certainly appeal to fans of both.”—Booklist

 “This is an excellent debut middle grade graphic novel, both funny and full of heart, depicting the lives of an immigrant family.” —Book Riot

“A funny and heartfelt story that beautifully communicates the honest and awkward relationships we have with life and our immigrant parents.” —Dan Santat, Caldecott Medal winner and creator of A First Time for Everything 

“In this cathartic graphic novel debut, Xu renders Kevin and his family with lighthearted flair, depicting them as abundantly expressive characters who each sport giant specs. Much of the protagonists’ charm stems from the fact that they all complain loudly (and legitimately) about their own plight while tending to one another’s woes with humor and tenderness.”—Publishers Weekly

“Charming, relatable, nostalgic. Love Xu’s subtle and scraggly drawing style paired with his understated, yet deeply affecting storytelling. Brings me back to being a lonely Chinese kid in Toronto. A fun read!” —Academy Award–winning director and screenwriter Domee Shi (Bao, Turning Red)

 “[C]omics are a great way to present us with different perspectives, and this graphic novel did not disappoint!” —Geek Dad

“From the Sunday-funnies font to the muted, realistic palette with pops of color, Xu’s sketchy cartoon style nostalgically harkens back to the era of classic comic strips, well suiting its 1994 setting . . . . [A] moving depiction of a multigenerational immigrant Chinese family trying to sew themselves back together.”—Bulletin Center for Children’s Books


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RAY XU is a Toronto-based story artist and animator for television and feature films. His recent work includes the 2021 Netflix animated hit The Mitchells vs. The Machines; DreamWorks’ Captain Underpants movie; and more. He invites you to visit him online at

Title Details

Pages 240 pages, all in color

Trim 6 x 8.5 x 0 Inches

Territories World

Category Comics & Graphic Novels | Middle Grade Fiction

Age Range 8 to 12