Hi everyone, welcome to this first review post for April. The series of graphic novels I’ll be reviewing is the acclaimed Sunny series written and illustrated by best-selling brother-sister duo, Jennifer and Matthew Holm. If you enjoy heartfelt reads, this delightful graphic novel series will never disappoint…go on…give it a go!!
Titles: Sunny side up, Swing it Sunny, Sunny rolls the dice
Authors: Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
Genre: Fiction – contemporary
Publication details: Graphix; NY, 2015, 2017, 2019
What these books are about: This adorable series starts in 1976 with young Sunny Lewin having to spend her summer holidays with her grandfather in a retirement village in Florida. We’re thrust into some hilarious adventures she has with a young boy Buzz and her grandfather. There is some mystery surrounding the real reason why Sunny had to come to Florida in the first place. In the next read, Swing it Sunny, our heroine Sunny finds herself having to navigate the perilous world that is middle school. While Sunny misses her older brother Dale, who’s had to go away to boarding school and returns home for the holidays a different person. Sunny rolls the dice takes us through Sunny’s middle school experiences. It’s a confusing time for Sunny as her best friends are only interested in boys and fashion. Sunny herself has found a new interest in playing Dungeons and Dragons with some like-minded boy classmates.
My review: A delightful set of graphic reads!! I love the simplicity of the images in this series!! With each ‘flashback’ strip in the first one, we get to see a little about Sunny and her family and the events that led to her being sent to her Gramps. The storyline is heartwarming as we’re taken back to the 1970’s and thrust into the social issues of that time. I really related to the first book as it was set in the year of my birth along with the ‘latest’ cameras and hair styles!! The topics of substance abuse covered in these first two stories and the effects it has on young Sunny is expertly portrayed. Like the authors said, “…when substance abuse issues affect your lives when you are a kid, ‘it affects your whole world, making you feel ashamed and embarrassed and scared and sad and it was something they felt they had to keep secret’.” I love how the sister and brother team has conveyed a very grown up issue into these graphic novels with their combined skills, and shown that ‘kids today don’t need to feel ashamed, but okay to feel sad, and confused and to need some help. And definitely okay to talk about it’. In a way, I think the problem of substance abuse is a very serious issue that hits small communities throughout the world and it’s always the young ones that we need to educate about it. The third book tackles Sunny’s friendships and shows her growth as a young girl with her own unique interests. I enjoyed reading of Sunny’s adventures with hair rollers and roller skating!! A hilarious set of reads about growing up in the 70’s along with a quirky and funny young girl!! Hope the next one is as awesome as these!!
My rating: 4 ⭐
Additional notes: Sunny side up has been nominated for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards for Best Publication for kids (ages 9 to 12) in 2016, the Oregon Spirit Book Award for graphic novels in 2015, and the Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award for grades 3 to 6 in 2017. The fourth of this series Sunny makes a splash, has an expected publication date of September 2021.