Swing It, Sunny

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Swing It, Sunny Book Poster Image
Funny, affecting graphic novel shows power of positivity.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 6 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Set in late 1976, Swing It, Sunny! brings the action back from Florida to the Lewins' suburban home. The graphic novel can serve as a springboard for discussion on how to help family members with drug or alcohol problems.

Positive Messages

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. Even though family members get angry with one another, they still love one another.

Positive Role Models & Representations

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 and to develop new interests that help her take care of herself.


Sunny is fascinated by the TV soap opera General Hospital and develops a crush on one of the doctors.


The TV soap opera General Hospital plays a role in the plot, as does an official "Pet Rock."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Sunny's older brother smokes and has had trouble with alcohol and drugs.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Swing It, Sunny continues the story begun in Sunny Side Up, 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 returns home from her summer in Florida and learns that her family still has problems it needs to deal with. She tries to keep a positive attitude, even as her brother Dale lashes out in anger at everyone. Sunny learns some hard lessons about disappointment, bottling up feelings, and being honest about family troubles. Sunny's older brother smokes and has had experience with drugs and alcohol.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 8, 9, 13, and 16-year-old Written byAmy S. November 9, 2017

Too much reality for Age group

This book directly discusses drug use by a sibling and a child being sent away for behavior. While the main focus is staying positive, I don't like the co... Continue reading
Adult Written byemma.hardy March 21, 2019

its amazing

you should read this book
Kid, 10 years old December 30, 2018


I honestly loved this book and the first one. I think it was well written and I didn't find any grammar mistakes!
Kid, 12 years old November 4, 2018

A Touching Graphic Novel

Swing It, Sunny is one of the best graphic novels I've ever read! This is the second book to Sunny Side Up. Sunny is trying to cope with an attitude-y brot... Continue reading

What's the story?

SWING IT, SUNNY picks up 10-year-old Sunny Lewin's story where it left off in Sunny Side Up, with Sunny returning from an exciting summer in Florida. Back home with her parents and baby brother, Sunny tries to figure out the rules of middle school, with help from her best friend and from a mysterious new neighbor. Sadly, her troubled older brother, Dale, is having a hard time at boarding school, and Sunny wishes she could make him happy again.

Is it any good?

A positive attitude can sometimes help troubles go away, and this gentle, humorous, and honest graphic novel demonstrates the value of optimism and persistence. Swing It, Sunny celebrates a specific time (1976-77), when kids had a little more freedom to explore their neighborhoods. Despite her sometimes brash personality, Sunny is a sensitive and kind girl, and the author and illustrator carefully delineate the love the Lewins have for one another as they experience trying times. Middle school girls are most likely to enjoy Sunny's adventures, but the series, with its great character work and whimsical action, may appeal to a wide range of readers. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Swing It, Sunny depicts a family struggling with big and small problems. How do family members show that they need help?

  • Dale has been sent to a military boarding school. What kind of education might a boarding school offer a student who's having trouble in public school?

  • How can taking up a new activity help when you're feeling sad or stressed out?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love graphic novels and middle school stories

Themes & Topics

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