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Sweep|Jonathan Auxier
Sweep : The Story of a Girl and Her Monster
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Overview

A 2019 Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner

It's been five years since the Sweep disappeared. Orphaned and alone, Nan Sparrow had no other choice but to work for a ruthless chimney sweep named Wilkie Crudd. She spends her days sweeping out chimneys. The job is dangerous and thankless, but with her wits and will, Nan has managed to beat the deadly odds time and time again.

When Nan gets stuck in a chimney fire, she fears the end has come. Instead, she wakes to find herself unharmed in an abandoned attic. And she is not alone. Huddled in the corner is a mysterious creature--a golem--made from soot and ash.

Sweep is the story of a girl and her monster. Together, these two outcasts carve out a new life--saving each other in the process. Lyrically told by one of today's most powerful storytellers, Sweep is a heartrending adventure about the everlasting gifts of friendship and wonder.

  • ISBN-13: 9781419731402
  • ISBN-10: 1419731408
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
  • Publish Date: September 2018
  • Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.9 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.06 pounds
  • Page Count: 368
  • Reading Level: Ages 9-12

Sweep

Novels that blend history with imaginative fantasy are particularly hard to pull off and particularly special when they’re written just right. Jonathan Auxier’s Sweep definitely falls into the latter category, as this accomplished storyteller combines Victorian labor history and Jewish mythology for an unforgettable tale of a friendship that transcends time and place.

Nan Sparrow is the best chimney sweep London has seen in a generation. She learned from the best, having been tutored by her kindly guardian known only as the Sweep. But the Sweep has been gone for years, and Nan is now in thrall to a cruel master with little regard for his young charge’s well-being. Although Nan is smart and creative, she can’t imagine a different future until she finds herself cleaning the chimneys at a girls’ school and a teacher recognizes her potential.

But then Nan becomes trapped in the school’s narrow chimney, risking being burned alive on the job. That moment of crisis, however, brings to life the Sweep’s last gift to Nan, a kindly soot golem named Charlie who transforms her life.

Auxier’s melding of fiction and fact—much of which is explained in an author’s note—will inspire readers to learn more about the sources behind this tale. But what will ring truest for readers of all ages is the novel’s emotional core: “We save ourselves by saving others.” This message of generosity and compassion changes Nan’s life and will touch young readers, too.

 

This article was originally published in the October 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.