Sunny Side Up
by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm (brother/sister team!)
AR Level 2.4, 0.5 point
I have been hearing about Sunny Side Up on Twitter and I’ve seen it in the bookstore on my recent trips (where I photograph books I want to read). I had to see what the fuss was about, and I can see why it’s been tweeted and raved about now! Jennifer Holm’s novel The Fourteenth Goldfish is a popular one in my class, and is never on my bookshelf for more than a few minutes.
The story flips between “present” time (mid 1970’s) and the previous year. Sunny lives with her parents, younger brother, and older brother. She is sent to stay with her grandfather in his retirement community in Florida instead of going on a family vacation to the beach with her friend, and she doesn’t think it’s fair. We see her struggles with her grandpa, as well as her friendship with a boy who introduces her to comic books. In the end, we see that part of the reason Sunny has been so miserable is she’s been holding onto a deep sense of guilt, and she has to let that go.
What I liked about this story was that it touched on a very relatable topic that I know for a fact several of my current and past students face (or have had to in the past), and that’s feeling guilty for someone else’s actions when it has nothing to do with them. Sunny also has a brother involved in something very dark and dangerous, and she worries about him. I know my students also deal with siblings involved in gangs, drugs, or other bad situations. I like that Sunny was able to get through a bad situation and still come out on top. She needed to change her attitude and outlook for things to improve.
What I didn’t like about this book was that I wanted to see more of what happened with her brother. It has a wonderful theme, but for my students, I think seeing the process of what happens to make things better for her brother would help. I felt like her parents’ explanation or reaction could have helped. As a story, it wasn’t necessary. For the sake of my students and others who CAN relate, I think more information may have been helpful.
I’ve enjoyed Raina Telgemaier’s graphic novels, and this fell into the same range of enjoyment.
Book 21 of 40 (year 2)