FICTION

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster

368p. Abrams/Amulet. Sept. 2018. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781419731402.
COPY ISBN
Gr 5–8—A stunning historical fantasy novel about the power of friendship, our potential for courage, and the beauty of remembering loved ones, set in Victorian England. Nan is one of the many child sweeps who have the dangerous job of cleaning chimneys. She wakes one morning to find her beloved father figure, the Sweep, gone, a lump of char in his place. Years later, Nan gets caught in a chimney fire and is rescued by the char, who springs to life as a Golem named Charlie. Nan soon befriends a young teacher named Miss Bloom, from whom she learns that Golems no longer live after their purpose is served. When a young sweep dies, Nan, her fellow sweeps, and Miss Bloom organize a protest on May Day to reveal the dangers of their job to the general public. Meanwhile, Nan realizes the Golem's true purpose and with it, the difficulty of letting go. Auxier phenomenally weaves historical facts and fantasy. While the feats of these child sweeps seem incredible, Auxier provides back matter in the form of historical notes to clarify fact from fiction. Nan's strong yet vulnerable personality will appeal to readers, and a realistic set of secondary characters add depth to the plot. The novel's structure is a nod to William Blake and will delight teachers and librarians.
VERDICT Excellent writing and skillful integration of historical fact with compelling characters make this a must-buy where middle grade fantasy is in demand.

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