Every single word on the 300+ pages of SWEEP are well worth every minute of reading. Jonathan Auxier fills these pages with quotable quotes and characters to love. He stirs up feelings from the gut and places you in settings so vivid you question whether you have actually been there or not. Lucky for all of us, today, Nan, Charlie, Toby, Newt, Miss Bloom and that wicked Crudd arrived on bookshelves everywhere ready for you and the students in your lives to experience late 19th century London from the eyes of young chimney sweeps.
When Nan was six years old, her Sweep disappeared. The only thing he left for her was a clump of soot that she kept safely in her pocket. Now 11 and after spending years working for the evil Crudd, Nan gets stuck in a chimney fire. She should have died from the "Devil's Nudge" except that her ember "creature" saved her.
Named after char, Charlie, is a what? "I have met monsters before and you are not one of them," Nan tells Charlie. Not a monster but a golem. In search of learning more about golems, Nan turns to Miss Bloom, the Jewish teacher at a nearby school. "Once a golem has fulfilled its purpose, it must die."
What is Charlie's purpose? Is he there to teach love? Friendship? Courage? Fear? All of the above? It was interesting to chat briefly with Jonathan about the book and compare it to The Night Gardener. He said he was thinking of writing a trilogy with each book capturing a different feeling: Night Gardener would be fear; Sweep grief and the third love. I actually thought there was a lot of love in this book, along with fear, too. "If you're not afraid, you're not doing it right." Take my word for it, Jonathan you're doing it just right.
I read this book in two days. I had to finish it before I met up with Jonathan at the Princeton Book Festival on Saturday and of course, before its book birthday today. I'm glad closed the book on time because then I got to talk to Jonathan about a few of my observations including what I think is the recurring theme of a tree growing in a house.
One thing I love about the book are the thoughtful and quotables quotes. I can even picture some of them in a yearbook*:
On defining a year: "A year is a little lifetime..." this couldn't be truer and as my daughter navigates 11th grade, I want this lifetime and the next to go VERY slowly.
"We are saved by saving others."
"In some ways, accidents feel even worse than if you'd done them on purpose."
"The world is full of wonders that I can scarcely imagine....Like everyday was a miracle."
"Courage is feeling fear and facing it head-on." (Graduation speech material?)
I picked up a copy of The Night Gardener for my son on Saturday. He started reading it this afternoon and later said in a surprising voice, "It's good, Mom." Would I really steer him astray?
|Trust me, that's Jonathan!|
Happy Book Birthday, Sweep!
Hope it was a good one!
I still share this Night Gardener Animoto with students as an example of a good one. After that lesson, students flock to the A section. What do you think?