Kirkus Reviews QR Code
SUNNY SIDE UP by Jennifer L. Holm Kirkus Star


by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm ; illustrated by Matthew Holm

Age Range: 9 - 11

Pub Date: Aug. 25th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-545-74165-1
Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic

Family troubles temporarily strand 10-year-old Sunny in a Florida retirement community. Imagine the recreational possibilities.

In the hands of the sibling creators of Babymouse and Squish, even a story inspired by troubling circumstances in their own mid-1970s childhoods offers hilarious turns aplenty. Instead of a trip to the shore with a friend, Sunny finds herself on a solo flight to stay with her genial grandfather—in a development where a trip to the post office is the day’s big outing, Walt Disney World is hours away, and her exposure to senior culture includes being fawned over by old ladies. Happily, there is one other child around: Buzz, a groundskeeper’s boy, who turns her on to superhero comics and joins her in starting up a moderately lucrative business recovering golf balls and residents’ (illegal) lost cats. Less happily, interspersed flashbacks reveal the reason for the sudden change of plans by tracking her older brother Dale’s increasingly erratic behavior and drug abuse, leading up to an intervention in the wake of a violent incident. Colored by Lark Pien in subdued hues that subtly reflect Sunny’s state of mind, the sequential panels present both storylines in a mix of terse labels, brief dialogue, and, particularly, silent, effective reaction shots.

Funny, poignant, and reassuringly upbeat by the end but free of glib platitudes or easy answers. (afterword) (Graphic historical fiction. 9-11)