Review: ‘Swing It, Sunny’
Sunny Side Up, the story loosely based on the lives of sister-and-brother team of Jennifer and Matthew Holm, wrapped up so well that it never occurred to me there would be a sequel. But lucky for me, there is! Although the story will be better understood by those who have read the first volume, this sequel stands entirely on its own.
Swing It, Sunny
By Jennifer L. Holm. Matthew Holm
Graphix. 2017. ISBN 9780545741729
PBK, $12.99. 220pp.
Grades 4 and up
Dale, who had been getting into trouble with drugs and his friends, has been sent off to military school. It has left a pall over the house, and Sunny is constantly missing her older brother, who had once been fun and loving. In short vignettes, we see Sunny deal with allergies, her cute but mischievous baby brother, friends, and a new neighbor.
Favorite characters, like Gramps and Big Al the crocodile make appearances, but buzz, Sunny’s Florida friend, does not. (I was a bit disappointed that he didn’t get a mention—although the comics he hooked her on certainly do.)
When Dale comes home, he is angry and moody, and Sunny has to learn that it isn’t because of her. The story softens at the end, when Sunny reaches out to Dale and he finally accepts her proffered hand and seems to be on the track of making peace with himself and his sister.
On a very basic level, this story will entertain a group of middle-grade readers, but beyond that, reading it may help children in difficult life situations learn that what’s going wrong with others in their family is not their fault.
The fun and sassy artwork tells the story even more than the words. Many of the drawings capture Sunny’s pensive feelings, her confusion, and eventually her triumph.
Give this to any fan of the first volume—or introduce a new reader. This will be a surefire hit!
About Esther Keller
Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. She also curates the Graphic Novel collection for the NYC DOE Citywide Digital Library. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.
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