Kid on the Go!
Memoir of My Childhood and Youth
Kid on the Go! is Neill McKee’s third work of creative nonfiction. It’s a standalone prequel to his award-winning Finding Myself in Borneo. In this new book, McKee takes readers on a journey through his childhood, adolescence, and teenage years from the mid-40s to the mid-60s, in the small, then industrially-polluted town of Elmira, Ontario, Canada—one of the centers of production for Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.
McKee’s vivid descriptions, dialog, and self-drawn illustrations are a study of how a young boy learned to play and work, fish and hunt, avoid dangers, cope with death, deal with bullies, and to build or restore “escape” vehicles. You may laugh out loud as the author recalls his exploding hormones, attraction to girls, rebellion against authority, and survival of 1960s’ “rock & roll” culture, emerging on the other side as a youth leader.
After leaving Elmira, McKee describes his intensely searching university years, trying to decide which career path to follow. Except for a revealing postscript, the story ends when he accepts a volunteer teaching position on the island of Borneo, in Southeast Asia.
Kid on the Go! is a humorous and poignant story about the author’s childhood and youth, growing up in a, then, industrially-polluted small town in Ontario, Canada. McKee invites readers to take a journey that will cause them to reflect on the building blocks of their own adult lives.
290 pages / 107 photos & illustration / 5.5 x 8.5
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-7329457-5-3. $18.95
Ebook ISBN: 978-1-7329457-6-0. $8.95
Prices in USD and vary by retailer outlet.
Subjects: Memoir / Childhood / Adolescence / Youth / Environmental Pollution / Agent Orange / Hunting and Fishing / Work and Play / Hormonal Changes / Sexual Attraction / Bullying / Rebelling Against Authority / Intellectual Awakening / Choosing a Career
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Kid on the Go!
Neill McKee's new book, Kid on the Go!, reminds us of the importance of storytelling, for as author Brian McLaren says, "It is through storytelling that we are given direction, values, vision and inspiration." The description of McKee's childhood could be ours, and that is why this book is important. He has sought to understand what made him the adult who would eventually visit and work in over 80 countries. But I think this memoir is more than about venturing out in a geographical sense. It is about seeking new experiences, venturing out in a social sense, forming and valuing relationships with the stranger and those who think differently. It is all told with a gentle sense of humour and delightful drawings.
—Bruce Williamson, Port Hope, Ontario Reviewed on Amazon.ca
Kid on the Go! does an impressive thing, it uses naive illustrations to tell an ever-evolving story of growth and maturation. Neill McKee covers his early life in the middle of the 20th century—kids exploring neighborhoods and creeks, and young emotions, in approachable prose and conversational storytelling. The illustrations that accompany these anecdotes are similarly plucky, sketchy, and approachable. You can feel the artist's youth pour through the sketchy lines. As young Neill matures, the content of his stories develop into exploring sexuality, physicality, disillusionment. His prose gets more sophisticated too—we read about complicated emotions in more complicated syntaxes. But why I want to recommend this book, is that the drawings stay the same. Sure, he begins to draw more mature subjects: electroshock therapy, ugly cityscapes, racy cars and women, but the style still retains that childlike sketchiness and approachability. That juxtaposition is really captivating. So, I'd like to thank the author for summoning the bravery to both write and draw his story.
—Dav Yendler, illustrator, Los Angeles, California, USA - Reviewed on Amazon.com
Neill McKee has the ability to explain life’s experiences in a way I can easily relate to. When I read about McKee’s early adventures and the lessons he learned, I experienced a lot of reborn fun, joy and memories of the projects my friends and I created, with nothing but imagination and inspiration. They were just like what McKee writes about with his classic style and humor.
Charles Rolison, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Reviewed on Amazon.com
This was such a moving and engaging story. The author did such an excellent job of regaling readers with personal memories and both hilarious and sentimental moments from his youth that many readers would be able to relate to, while also painting an image of life in the Canadian small-town lifestyle the author grew up in. Acting as the reader’s eyes and ears in the era and setting, the imagery and the descriptive way the author wrote really transported one to the childhood the author had lived through, and even the descriptive smells that defined the different parts of town felt like they could be easily conjured when reading.
The highs and lows the author describes in this narrative paint a very special yet relatable picture of childhood in those times, and even some things that readers could be able to relate to now. From gaining one’s first pet as a child to the tragic loss of that pet years later, and everything in-between, the author covers a lot of memories and topics that explore his childhood, and the inclusion of original photographs from the author’s life and original drawings as well made the author’s life really pop in the reader’s minds.
A memorable, insightful, and entertaining memoir, author
Neill McKee’s “Kid on the Go!: Memoir of My Childhood and Youth” is a must-read nonfiction book. The way the author was able to cover his childhood and youth and present it in a way that gave voice to those who have experiences worth noting without having to have had a particular tragedy occur gave this book a unique voice, and personal experiences of my own life that the author touched upon showed how readers would be able to find instances and moments in the author’s life to relate to, which is the perfect way to bring readers into the nonfiction genre.
—Anthony Avina, Author Reviewed on Amazon.com
Loved the descriptions of the adventures of unsupervised boys. Risk-taking abounds. It was a page turner -- what is he going to do next? How can his seeking for spiritual truth be resolved? A very evocative memoir with layers of meaning.
Also see ratings and reviews on Goodreads.com
Born shortly after World War II ended, Neill McKee grew up during the 1950s and 60s in Elmira, a small town in Ontario where his father and uncle owned a farm equipment business. Given lots of freedom to roam, Neill and his siblings, cousins, and friends had many adventures, some that would certainly make a protective parent cringe. In Kid on the Go! Memoir of My Childhood and Youth, McKee tells gives an interesting, often humorous, account of those days.
The story also offers a glimpse of what life in general was like in his hometown, which melded Mennonite farms, a slaughterhouse, and a chemical factory that manufactured DDT. His first chapter gives a tongue-in-cheek account of all the interesting odors that emanated from each of the key industries and how town residents could tell which direction the wind was blowing.
Throughout the story we see McKee's world through the lens of the child who lived it, with some commentary on how his perspective changed over the years. Readers will also note how society in general has changed since the middle of the last century.
With illustrations and photos by the author, Kid on the Go! makes for an interesting read for those aged 16 and up.
In Kid on the Go! Neill McKee describes his adventures and misadventures while growing up in a small town in southern Ontario, Canada, where the smells of a chemical factory, mixed with the scent of manure from nearby farms, permeate the community. With interesting and humorous stories, interspersed with drawings and photos, McKee takes the reader through the challenges and disappointments of his life, from early years to a difficult adolescence and finally finding his grounding in his late teens, ultimately leading him to an international career in communication for social change. Kid on the Go! is an infinitely readable story
—Blair McDowell, Reviewed on Amazon.com