Saturday, August 15, 2015

Kid Konnection: Sunny Side Up

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week I'm going to share with you a soon-to-be-released graphic novel that I adored!

Summary: Sunny Lewin has been packed off to Florida to live with her grandfather for the summer. At first she thought Florida might be fun -- it is the home of Disney World, after all. But the place where Gramps lives is no amusement park. It's full of... old people. Really old people.

Luckily, Sunny isn't the only kid around. She meets Buzz, a boy who is completely obsessed with comic books, and soon they're having adventures of their own: facing off against golf-ball-eating alligators, runaway cats, and mysteriously disappearing neighbors. But the question remains -- why is Sunny down in Florida in the first place? The answer lies in a family secret that won't be secret to Sunny much longer... -- Scholastic

I rarely read graphic novels, but when I do, I always enjoy them! I saw SUNNY SIDE UP by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm sitting on the shelf in my basement and remembered the Kathy (aka Bermudaonion) loved it. I was in the mood for a quick (but good) read and decided that the cover and title were so cute and screaming "summer."

SUNNY SIDE UP tells the story of Sunny Lewin, a young girl sent away from her home in Pennsylvania to visit her grandfather in Florida. Sunny thought this summer trip could be fun, especially if she visited Disney World; however, she quickly learned that it meant staying with her grandfather's house that smells like smoke and sleeping on an uncomfortable sofa bed.

Fortunately Sunny meets another kid her age, a boy named Buzz. Buzz's father is the gardener in the 55 and older community where Sunny's grandfather lives. Buzz introduces Sunny to comics, and together, the two create their own adventures like hunting down missing cats, collecting golf balls from alligator ridden ponds, and even finding a missing neighbor with dementia.

As Sunny's summer unfolds, the story also flashes back to the months leading up to her parents sending her to Florida. It wasn't a pretty picture. Sunny's older brother had some issues and the tension escalated on the Fourth of July. Soon after, Sunny was sent to Florida.. and left to wonder if it was all her fault.

I have to admit that I was a bit surprised by SUNNY SIDE UP and I mean that in the very best way. I thought this would be a cute story about a young girl visiting her grandfather at a 55 and older community in Florida... and it was. However, this story was also pretty deep and handled some very serious issues in a deeply touching way.

SUNNY SIDE UP is from the brother sister duo behind BABYMOUSE, and I was really surprised to learn that is is semi-autobiographical. This story is so well written (and drawn), and I love that it captures Sunny's inner turmoil. Parts of this story were heart breaking especially as it pertained to Sunny taking the blame for her brother's actions. She actually was holding all of her worries in, and she thought her parents sent her away as a punishment of sorts. Not exactly a light, fun graphic novel.

However, SUNNY SIDE UP did have its fair share of good times, too. I enjoyed the relationship between Sunny and Buzz, and their "hero" antics were adorable. I also found their shared love of comic books to be sweet, and in many ways, this graphic novel paid tribute to some pretty great comic book and superhero characters. I also laughed quite a bit at the things Sunny endured as part of living with her grandfather in a senior citizen community in Florida -- the early bird lunches, the cat ladies, and more!

One of the things that I appreciated the most about SUNNY SIDE UP was that it took place during my childhood -- Summer 1976. I could relate to Sunny's desire to visit Disney World, along with the bicentennial celebration. In addition, the drawings of the phones, suitcases, lunch boxes and thermoses, the Barbie toilet roll covers, and more were like a nostalgic walk down memory lane!

Overall, I can't say enough about SUNNY SIDE UP. I think it's a great story with wonderful illustrations that is not only certain to entertain but also to touch your heart. It's also a great way to initiate discussion with middle grade readers about some serious subjects. Highly recommended!

Thanks to Kathy (Bermudaonion) for sharing a copy of this book.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!


bermudaonion said...

I'm so glad you loved this book too! It has such a great message.

ChaosIsAFriendOfMine said...

My boys love graphic novels - this one sounds like a good one for them to read.