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
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!
"In Kid on the Go!, memoirist Neill McKee takes us back to his childhood where he first discovers the strange features of his hometown of Elmira, Ontario, Canada. He shares his own views of the world with the eyes of a child and of the adult that he is now. Enriched with details, including clever artwork by McKee himself, along with family photographs, this memoir will take you on a journey through the author's past. Both funny and insightful, clever and thought-provoking, it's a book you don't want to miss."
—Nicole Pyles, writer, Portland, Oregon, USA worldofmyimagination.com
"Kid on the Go! is an honest, engaging, and sometimes humorous story that contains just the right amount of detail. It’s a thought-provoking memoir of childhood and youth that drew me right in. McKee is an expert storyteller with a great sense of humor."
—Crystal Otto, book blogger and reviewer, Reedsville, Wisconsin, USA
"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, and 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 davyendler.com
"In Kid on the Go!, Neill McKee describes his growing up in Elmira, Ontario, and his life and education in Ontario and Alberta, from the late 1940s up to the time he departed to teach in Borneo, in 1968. He presents a vivid picture of his hometown as he experienced it, often indicating his later understanding, while including drawings from a child’s and youthful viewpoint, and many photographs. He gives us well-told accounts of the pollution in the town, but tells humorous stories about his family, his teachers, his adolescent misadventures, his encounters with the 1960s counterculture, and his developing intellectual interests. The book concludes with a moving postscript, “Closing the Circle,” where he describes Elmira as it is today, and speaks of the deaths of his parents. Kid on the Go! tells us what it was really like to grow up in Canada during that era."
—Bill Exley, retired English teacher, London, Ontario, Canada
"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, the marginalized, and those who think differently. It is all told with a gentle sense of humour and delightful drawings."
—Bruce Williamson, also now a senior “kid on the go,” Port Hope, Ontario, Canada
"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 Mann Rolison, retired, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
"While this saga is an amusing trip down memory lane, it is also an intense drama of an unfolding life. On the amusing side we are entertained with ‘tongue-in-cheek’ humor as Neill McKee learns the ways of the world from “older and wiser” cousins and friends. But on a more serious side, the author invites us on a journey that will cause us to reflect on the building blocks of our own adult lives. McKee’s formative years were spent in a society that knew little diversity and where tolerance was limited to tolerating different interpretations of Christianity. In the last chapters and a postscript, we learn about the factors that led him to an international career, traveling to Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, and living in seven diverse countries."
—Ken Frey Ed. D., retired management consultant, Milton, Ontario, Canada
"Neill McKee takes readers on a tour of how he began experiencing the world. People who grew up in small town North America in the 40s, 50s and early 60s, when kids had freedom to roam the countryside, exploring its side roads, creeks, rivers, and woods, will find themselves snickering and laughing out loud as memories of their own youth pour forth. This freedom to explore his immediate environment when young, without regulations and structure created by adults, leads Neill to explore, physically and intellectually, the wider world as he matures and takes the reader through his university days, with whimsical humour, and finally off to teach in Sabah, Malaysia, a job that eventually leads him to an international career. It's a great story by itself and a prequel to his first memoir, Finding Myself in Borneo. A good read and great job!"
—Gwenda McCurdy, avid reader, Brampton Ontario, Canada
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.
—Jeanette Panagapka, retired teacher, Gibson, British Columbia, Canada