Sweep

Sweep

The Story of A Girl and Her Monster

Book - 2018
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In nineteenth-century England, after her father's disappearance Nan Sparrow, ten, works as a "climbing boy," aiding chimney sweeps, but when her most treasured possessions end up in a fireplace, she unwittingly creates a golem.
Publisher: New York : Amulet Books, 2018
ISBN: 9780735264359
Branch Call Number: J AUX
Characteristics: 344 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm

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r
Reads_A_Lot
Feb 13, 2019

This book was an unusual mix of historical fiction and fantasy. It combined the plight of child chimney sweeps in Victorian England with a golem from Jewish mythology. As strange as this concept sounds it came together in a wonderful way. There is so much feeling and wisdom in this story. Filled with friendship, courage, sacrifice and the repeated theme “we are saved by saving others.” As an adult I really enjoyed this beautifully written children’s book. As for children, this might be a little too much for younger kids. I would recommend middle school and up.

LPL_MattL Feb 13, 2019

Wonderfully written story that highlights the harsh conditions of child chimney sweeps in Victorian London. The reality of the situation was not like Burt in Mary Poppins, but rather grim. Children as young as six were made to climb up chimneys to clean them with no safety measures and became stuck, fell, were burnt and often died very young. Sweep takes this history and weaves a tale of fantasy that is at times heartbreaking, inspiring and funny.

Nan Sparrow is 12 year-old chimney sweep that was raised by a kind master until the age of 5, but after his disappearance, is forced into the service of a cruel master. Her days are spent doing grueling work. While cleaning a chimney, she becomes stuck in a flue, and a fiery accident awakens a monster from the piece of lucky char that she keeps in her pocket. Nan befriends the monster and names him Charlie, they shelter in abandoned house to hide from her master. As Charlie grows, Nab must conceal him from the outside world and also discovers that he has a part to play as her protector.

Nan Sparrow is intelligent, brave and resourceful lead who becomes the glue that inspires an excellent supporting cast to change their lot in life. Through his imagination and research, author Jonathon Auxier creates a Dickensian universe that immerses the reader in Victorian London.

I recommend Sweep for young fantasy readers who are looking to break out of regular tropes of the genre. Be prepared, parts of this book had me book had me feeling the feels, your eyes might get a little misty reading it!

l
leslie_d_
Dec 10, 2018

Auxier infuses his historical fiction with the fantastic. We first encounter the Sweep, the dreaming, and her singing, but soon there is the monster, a golem. Auxier’s golem is the most marvelous creation. Really, Auxier creates many marvelous characters, even the villainous ones.

Sweep will break your heart in multiple ways, and you’ll feel grateful. You’ll also laugh, I hope—certainly smile. Sweep is humorous and charming. Sweep is also deadly serious. “We save ourselves by saving others,” is not a quaint idea to letter in cursive on a blank wall or t-shirt. The gift of life is negotiated in the harshest of circumstances, as is the loss of it. Neither Sweep or Nan can afford to romanticize any of it; nor does such a romantic lens suit them.

n Sweep, Nan’s dreams and voice have a magical quality, and the message resonates. Dreams and voices, resourcefulness, courage and determination…young people have these things, both inside the book and out. Given that spark of purpose/meaning, what can’t/won’t they do? Whose lives may be saved in the process.

Recommended for those who enjoy friendship stories, historical fiction, and/or adventure; those who enjoy grit, horror and/or the macabre. For those interested in fem-friendly reads and/or Jewish characters. For readers of Derek Landy, Neil Gaiman, Frances Hardinge, or Christopher Priestly. If they are a sensitive reader, read this one aloud with them, you’ll both enjoy it.

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l
leslie_d_
Dec 10, 2018

“Is It a magic chessman?” The girl ran her thumb over the cracked base. It did not seem very magical. “Will the brave knight fight the charity men in my dreams?”

“It’s not magic. It’s a reminder.” The Sweep mussed her hair. “The brave knight is YOU. And YOU can fight them for yourself.” (296)

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