November 17, 2017

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Swing It, Sunny by Jennifer L. Holm | SLJ Review

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redstarHOLM, Jennifer L. Swing It, Sunny. illus. by Matthew Holm. 224p. Scholastic/Graphix. Sept. 2017. Tr $24.99. ISBN 9780545741705. pap. 12.99. ISBN 9780545741729.

Gr 4-6 –It’s autumn of 1976, and Sunny has just entered middle school. Her older brother, Dale, has been sent to boarding school to help with his drug problem, and life isn’t the same at home. But Sunny tries to stay positive. She and her best friend plan their Halloween costumes, watch popular TV shows, listen to records, and read comics. When Dale returns home for Thanksgiving, he’s angry that his family sent him away. With some sage advice from Gramps, Sunny learns that she can’t always fix everything but that offering her brother love and support may be enough. Fans of Sunny Side Up will adore this sequel, which provides enough background for new readers to jump right in. The exaggerated, cartoonlike artwork strikes the right balance of humor and heart, candidly conveying Sunny’s emotions. References to 1970s pop culture, such as General Hospital and pet rocks, add authenticity. The Holms are realistic about Sunny’s complicated family situation yet imbue the upbeat narrative with hope. VERDICT A must-have for middle grade graphic novel collections.–Marissa Lieberman, East ­Orange Public Library, NJ

This review was published in the School Library Journal August 2017 issue.

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