Sunny Side Up

by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

Sunny is spending a few weeks during the summer of 1976 with her grandfather in Florida.... read more

Sunny is spending a few weeks during the summer of 1976 with her grandfather in Florida. It’s not much of a vacation, though. Her grandpa lives in a retirement community where everyone is over 55. After meeting Buzz, the caretaker’s son, things get better as the two of them bond over comic books. Meanwhile, in flashbacks, Sunny remembers recent months at home, where her big brother, Dale, has become more and more unpredictable. At 10, Sunny can’t put together all the signs of a drug problem, and her parents won’t talk about it. The tension and fighting between Dale and her parents gets worse, while Sunny finds her brother’s behavior sometimes embarrassing, and, worse, frightening. Jennifer and Matthew L. Holm’s collaboration in this full-color graphic novel lovingly and humorously details elements of American life in the mid–1970s while sensitively conveying the emotional uncertainty Sunny feels. Dale’s drug use is one part of the cause; the silence around it is another. For Sunny, being talked to gently, honestly, truthfully, by her grandfather, who is not comfortable talking but willing to try, is a tremendous help. The sibling co-creators share their personal experience as children with a relative who had a substance abuse problem in a note that states, “We wrote this book so that young readers who are facing these same problems today don’t feel ashamed like we did.” (Ages 9–13)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2016

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