A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Set in 1976, Sunny Side Up captures life in a Florida retirement community during the nation's bicentennial. The graphic novel can serve as a springboard for discussion on how to help family members with drug or alcohol problems.
If someone in your family is having trouble with drugs or alcohol, it's OK to talk about it and seek help. Keeping secrets to keep the peace is not always the best way to handle things.
Positive Role Models
Sunny Lewin is a bright, friendly, mostly cheerful grade-school girl who tries to please the people around her. She tends to keep any bad feelings bottled up inside, however, and she feels responsible for keeping other people's secrets. She eventually learns to express her anger and disappointment, which ultimately makes her feel better.
Violence & Scariness
Sunny's teen brother, Dale, shows up drunk and stoned at a family picnic and tries to punch their father, accidentally hitting another family member instead.
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Products & Purchases
Sunny's friend Buzz reads DC and Marvel superhero comics. Sunny rides the attractions at Disney World.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Sunny's grandfather sneaks cigarettes when he thinks she isn't looking. Sunny's brother smokes, drinks, and takes drugs. He makes Sunny promise not to tell on him.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Sunny Side Up is a funny and affecting middle-grade graphic novel by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, the sister-and-brother team behind the Babymouse and Squish graphic-novel series for younger readers. Here, 10-year-old Sunny Lewin unexpectedly has to spend the summer of 1976 with her grandfather at his Florida retirement community. She learns some hard lessons about disappointment, bottling up feelings, and being honest about family troubles. Violence is limited to a punch that hurts more emotionally than physically. Sunny's grandfather smokes, and her teen brother smokes, drinks, and takes drugs.
Is It Any Good?
With sensitivity and good humor, this graphic novel provides a portrait of a loving family negotiating some difficult times. Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm capture the excitement, boredom, and absurdity of an unexpected trip to Florida. Sunny is a likable and adventurous main character, and her interactions with her friend Buzz and her grandfather ring with well-observed detail. The serious topics of tobacco, alcohol, and drug addiction are handled with finesse.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.