Holm, Jennifer L. Sunny Side Up. illus. by Matthew Holm & Lark Pien. 224p. Scholastic. Aug. 2015. Tr $23.99. ISBN 9780545741651; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9780545741668; ebk. $12.99. ISBN 9780545741675.
Gr 4-6–The Holm siblings, of “Babymouse” and “Squish” (both Random) fame, and colorist Pien, of American Born Chinese fame (First Second, 2008), have created a must-have graphic novel based on true events from the Holms’ childhood. The year is 1976, and Sunny Lewin will be spending the summer with her grandfather in Florida. Artistic details in the panels, such as the style of the clothes and the cars, give readers a good sense of the time period. Sunny arrives in Florida feeling hopeful that it will be an exciting summer, but her enthusiasm quickly fades when she realizes that she has to sleep on a squeaky sofa bed and her grandfather is too busy dragging her on boring errands to take her to Disney World. Sunny’s days start to look up when she befriends a boy from the neighborhood; together, they read superhero comic books and find lost golf balls and missing cats for reward money. Overshadowing Sunny’s summertime adventures are events from the past year that have led to her last-minute Florida trip. She loves her older brother, but when he takes drugs, he makes poor choices and unintentionally hurts her. Sunny feels confused and responsible for her brother’s erratic behavior. This title sensitively portrays how drug abuse affects loved ones through visual imagery and realistic dialogue. VERDICT A humorous yet emotional story with a memorable protagonist and detailed full-color art that make this a perfect choice for fans of Raina Telgemeier.–Marissa Lieberman, East Orange Public Library, NJ
This review was published in School Library Journal‘s August 2015 issue.