Reviews for Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster

by Jonathan Auxier

Horn Book
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

When child chimney sweep Nan Sparrow gets stuck in a flue and nearly dies, she is saved by a "soot golem." Nan and the kind, gentle "Charlie" escape from her cruel master and make a home in an abandoned mansion. Weaving together strands of Jewish folklore, Blake's poetry, Frankenstein, child-labor reform, and magical realism, Auxier crafts a beautiful, hopeful story from the ugly realities of nineteenth-century British life. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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.-Amy McInerney, Falmouth Elementary School, ME Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* Victorian London is often magically made over in novels, and Auxier (The Night Gardener, 2014) uses Jewish folklore as kindling for his wondrous, yet at times grim, story of Nan Sparrow, one of London's cadre of child chimney sweeps. Nearly 12, she works for the heartless Wilkie Crudd, who is nothing like the fatherly Sweep, who taught Nan to climb a chimney better than any boy. Though the Sweep disappeared five years ago, she still dreams of him and keeps the warm lump of charcoal he left behind in her pocket. On a routine job, Nan gets stuck in a flue and is saved by the Sweep's coal, which reveals itself to be a golem. Nan lets Crudd believe she died and hides with the golem, Charlie, in an abandoned house. At first, the freedom is blissful, but as Charlie grows larger, Nan becomes concerned about keeping him safe though Nan is the one who needs protecting. Auxier wipes away the grime from a bleak chapter in history where children were forced to work dangerous jobs that claimed many lives. He questions what makes one a monster and applauds helping others, activism, education, earthly marvels, and the possibility of magic. Nan's fiery personality will attract readers like moths, and Auxier's unusual blend of mythology and history will keep them transfixed.--Julia Smith Copyright 2018 Booklist


Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

A chimney sweep disappears from a London rooftop, leaving six-year-old Nan Sparrow alone, save for a hat and a lump of mysteriously ever-warm charcoal-her char. To survive, Nan joins a gang of "climbing boys" owned by the abusive Wilkie Crudd. By age 11, she is the finest sweep of them all, but following a brutal chimney fire, she discovers that her char has become a golem, which she names Charlie, and that he has saved her life. As the two hide from Crudd, Nan grows to love Charlie and his particular brand of magic, and she learns that golems are, by nature, ephemeral: if Charlie can flame up, he can almost certainly flame out. A cast of fully fleshed (and sooted) characters contribute texture and community, and Auxier (The Night Gardener) mixes moments of triumph and pure delight (new snow, rooftop vistas) with dark, Dickensian themes (child labor, sickness, poverty). Told in two allusive sections-"Innocence" and "Experience," after Blake's volume-that pivot between Nan's past and present, this dazzling, warmhearted novel contemplates selflessness and saving, deep love and what makes a monster. Ages 8-12. Agent: Joe Regal, Regal Hoffmann & Assoc. (Sept.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

A young chimney sweep gathers an unusual family around her in this bittersweet historical fantasy of love and loss.Eleven-year-old Nan Sparrow's only legacies from the Sweep, her beloved mentor, are his hat and a strange lump of charcoal. After her fiery near death lets her escape her abusive master's control, this "char" awakens into a protective golem she names Charlie. Alas, Victorian London, however magical, is not kind to "climbing boys" of any gendernor to monsters, nor to any of the odd lot of outcasts that Nan befriends. Auxier (The Night Gardener, 2014, etc.) turns his imaginative whimsy and lyrical prose to a real historical horror; while never gratuitous, he does not shy away from the appalling conditions under which children labor, nor does he ignore the sacrifices and struggle to abolish the practice. The inclusion of two (possibly three) Jewish characters suggests the intertwining of anti-Semitism and class exploitation, while references to such authors as William Blake, Daniel Defoe, and Mary Shelley demonstrate how literature could fire imaginations and highlight oppression. But the vivid characterstough, whip-smart Nan; lovable, childlike Charlie; their engaging companions; even the marvelously Dickensian villainsprevent the story from becoming either dry history lesson or political screed. As Nan painfully, tentatively, haltingly permits love to make her vulnerable, she also gains strength and purpose: "We are saved by saving others."As heartbreaking as bleak midwinterand as hopeful as early spring. (author's note, historical note) (Historical fantasy. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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