Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier

Publisher's Synopsis: "It's been five years since the Sweep disappeared. Orphaned and alone, Nan Sparrow had no other choice but to work for a ruthless chimney sweep named Wilkie Crudd. She spends her days sweeping out chimneys. The job is dangerous and thankless, but with her wits and will, Nan has managed to beat the deadly odds time and time again.

When Nan gets stuck in a chimney fire, she fears the end has come. Instead, she wakes to find herself unharmed in an abandoned attic. And she is not alone. Huddled in the corner is a mysterious creature—a golem—made from soot and ash. 

Sweep is the story of a girl and her monster. Together, these two outcasts carve out a new life—saving each other in the process. Lyrically told by one of today's most powerful storytellers, Sweep is a heartrending adventure about the everlasting gifts of friendship and wonder."

I'm just going to say it plain and simple...........  I LOVED Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster! There is just so much right about this tale: excellent writing, well-blended mix of history and fantasy, alternating perspective chapters, an endearing protagonist and her sweetly innocent monster. ALL of it is near perfection for the age range. I am even going to go out on a limb and name it a Newbery contender. 

Teaching Thoughts: Sweep jumps right into the chimney sweeping action and orphaning and some struggling readers would benefit from some backstory on 19th-century England and chimney sweeps before setting off, but most readers will fall in love with Nan, and then Charlie quick enough to figure all the historical unknowns. The book clocks in at 368 pages, but the chapters themselves are short enough to capture even struggling readers attention; yet strong vocabulary, historical framing and plotting also hold the more advanced readers' attention.

Having previously read and enjoyed Mr. Auxier's Night Gardener, I felt the same strong mood/tone methods at work. He creates melancholy without falling into gloom; the reader feels protagonist Nan's story. Lots of opportunities for teachers to pull mood/tone - author's purpose examples from his work. 

Social Science themes on activism, child labor, 19th-century England, anti-semitism can all be explored. 

Although I did not see it in the digital copy, I have read that the book will have additional information on topics such as golems, chimney sweeps, etc... at the end. 

I highly recommend this title for both library and classroom purchase. It would also make an excellent read aloud.
Genre: Historical Fantasy? Magical Realism? Both!
Age: 9 - 12
Pages: 368
Themes:  Friendship, overcoming adversity, activism, wonder 
Sweep also takes a nod towards Dickens with orphans, England, nasty adults and abused children
Character Development: Protagonist Nan is strong from the get-go, Toby is the embodiment of hope in a bleak world, and Charlie.......... innocent, wonder-filled golem Charlie.......  is as strong a supporting charter one could ask for
Plot Engagement: Some young readers have trouble with alternating storylines, but as a reading specialist, I love this type of mental workout for my students. One storyline is melancholy remembrance, the other is action present.
Originality: A GOLEM... not too many golems in children's literature, played so well as soot and ash, instead of the traditional clay, with the chimney sweep history. This is a premise that when pitched to a publisher might get you booted out the door. But, man, it works!
Believability: Never a minute of disbelief - turning pages into the wee hours of the night to finish sort of story
Thank You to NetGalley for my digital copy and to publisher ABRAMS Kids/Amulet Books
Date: September 2018
ISBN: 9781419731402
Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster

Here's a lovely book trailer from the author

You can read more about author Jonathan Auxier on his website www.thescop.com . There's lots of videos and resources as well as information on author visits. 

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 © 2007-2018 Dr. Cheryl Vanatti, education & reading specialist writing at www.ReadingRumpus.com