Sweep is a sweet imaginative fantasy with beautiful writing. While it is fiction, there is some basis of truth in its description of the abuse of young chimney sweeps in Victorian London, and the ancient myth of golem-like monsters. Nan is a strong independent character that we see grow up under the hardest conditions, and we feel better when she has a friend and protector like Charlie, and a cast of other characters that see her value. The details of this fantasy world, like the rooms Nan and Charlie make in their home are rich with description and feeling. This book is both sweet and sad. While Nan loses so many people who are important to her, she never gives up hope. Students who liked The Girl Who Drank the Moon and The Night Gardener would like this book.
The Unwanted provides detailed chronological information about the Syrian refugee crisis in an easily digestible format. The author, Don Brown, packs a lot of detail into a short book.The suffering is shown dramatically in the faces of the refugees. The harsh reality of suffering is also reflected in the washed out dull grey and brown colours of the illustrations. The author did extensive research visiting three refugee camps to get first hand stories for the book. To show so many of the experiences of these refugees, he couldn’t personalize their struggles and journeys and this made their sad experiences less real to me. The scale of the Syrian refugee problem, the huge loss of life and the near hopelessness of the situation still packs an emotional punch. Students who like nonfiction graphic novels would like this book.
This is a hilarious read. The dialogue is very witty. I liked Norris’ close relationship with his mom and the references to Canadian sports teams and experiences unique to Canada. It was interesting to see Norris try to fit in at his new school in far away Texas. The description of his constant sweating in the relentless heat is repeated in a comical way. The stereotypes he projects on groups of students don’t end up being true for the people he gets to know. Norris’ quick, snarky comebacks and comments in his journal are funny but ultimately get him in trouble. It is a sweet romance with some unexpected twists. Students who liked Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl, and Darius the Great is Not Okay and its sequel would like this book.
Everyone loves Rainbow Rowell’s stories but some of her books are long and slower paced, so it is nice to see one like this in graphic novel format. Students will be able to relate to the setting as they have probably all visited pumpkin patches in Nova Scotia, although none as elaborate as the one in this story. We get to visit sights of this huge fall tourist attraction and even follow along on a map. The dialogue between the two main characters is realistic and witty, and we quickly learn to like them. I liked how plus-sized Deja is so full of life and happy to eat her way around the park with no guilt. Josiah, who is less eager to search around the site for the girl he pined over for years, gains confidence with Deja. Grade 12’s might be able to relate to the nostalgic feel of doing something for the last time in their last year of high school. The bright, colourful illustrations with lots of hidden detail brings the story about friendship and romance alive. Students who liked What Could Possibly Go Wrong or Raina Telgemeier books would like this graphic novel.
Monday’s Not Coming is a suspenseful read with some unexpected twists. We get to know the character, Monday through her best friend, Claudia’s memories and we share Claudia’s frustration when no one seems to care that a black girl has gone missing. It is a story about their unique friendship but also about the limitations of it. While these friends were able to help each other, their friendship couldn’t fix systemic wrongs and prejudices. While some students found the book confusing with it’s back and forth timeline, I thought the twist it revealed was the best part of the book. The story gets dark as it goes on, and this makes me recommend it as a mature read. Students who liked Sadie and If You’re Out There, will like this book.