Sunny Side Up

by Jennifer L. Holm

Other authorsMatthew Holm (Illustrator)
Paperback, 2015



Call number



When is a summer vacation not really a summer vacation?
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 golfball-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. .



Graphix (2015), Edition: Illustrated, 224 pages


"From the groundbreaking and award-winning sister-brother team behind Babymouse comes a middle-grade, graphic-novel memoir. Following the lives of kids whose older brother's delinquent behavior has thrown their family into chaos, 'Sunny Side Up' is at once a compelling 'problem' story and a love letter to the comic books that help the protagonist make sense of her world" --

User reviews

LibraryThing member Brainannex
A sweet glimpse of one summer where a young girl stays with her grandfather in his senior citizen's community. Dinner at 4!
LibraryThing member eduscapes
SUNNY SIDE UP by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm is a poignant, yet humorous middle grade graphic novel focusing on family and friendship.

Set in August 1976, Sunny Lewin arrives in Florida to spend a few weeks with her grandfather who lives in a retirement community on a golf course. From searching
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for lost golf balls and cats to reading comics with a new friend, Sunny has some fun despite being surrounded by “old people”. Flashbacks provide insights into Sunny’s home life back in Pennsylvania revealing family secrets and the real reason she’s staying with her gramps.

Whether referencing the bicentennial celebration or reflecting on the smell of a Polaroid photograph, the authors are effective at immersing readers in the culture of the 1970s. The illustrator’s eye for period details make the story even more endearing.

A note from the authors encourages readers to reach out to family, teachers, and counselors if they find themselves dealing with someone experiencing substance abuse.

Librarians will find that the authentic story will appeal to youth. The authors seamlessly weave important social messages into the heartwarming summer story.

Published by Scholastic on August 25, 2015.
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LibraryThing member imtanner2
Excellent graphic novel about a girl who goes to spend the summer with her grandfather while her parents deal with her older brother's substance abuse.
LibraryThing member asomers
This graphic novel is a good pick for students that may be dealing with a family member's substance abuse. It is a quick read with a good message.
LibraryThing member LibraryGirl11
Sunny spends the summer with her grandfather in a Florida retirement community while her parents get help for her brother, whose drug and alcohol abuse has gotten out of hand. Deceptively simple.
LibraryThing member mal2012
Wish the author's note was at the beginning of the book. That would have made a huge difference in understanding the story.
LibraryThing member Salsabrarian
This treatment of a serious subject just blew me away! It's a child's view of how her beloved big brother's problems with drugs and alcohol impact her and her family. It's not super heavy or a downer, but hopeful and funny. The authors do a great job of showing how even as Sunny goes along her life
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being a kid, she's still concerned about her brother and hoping he gets better. And set in the '70s, the illustrations are spot on in period details. Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific shampoo--yikes! Barbie macrame toilet paper cover--grotesque! Grampa's medicine cabinet and mirror combo--I grew up with that! Wood-paneled walls--arrghhh! Jeans pocket notebook binder--aaaaaahhh! Fantastic!
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LibraryThing member BillieBook
Short and deceptively simple, Sunny Side Up will surely resonate with its 9- to 12-year-old readers, especially those who feel they've been "punished" for something that wasn't their fault. The Holms, Jennifer and Matthew, impart an strong, important message without ever becoming preachy or treacly
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and the colors by Lark Pien bring to life both Sunny's environment and her inner emotional state.

P.S. to the authors: I hope the real Dale got the help he needed.

Also, I'm still Batman.
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LibraryThing member paula-childrenslib
"From the groundbreaking and award-winning sister-brother team behind Babymouse comes a middle-grade, graphic-novel memoir. Following the lives of kids whose older brother's delinquent behavior has thrown their family into chaos, 'Sunny Side Up' is at once a compelling 'problem' story and a love
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letter to the comic books that help the protagonist make sense of her world" -- provided by publisher.
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LibraryThing member WhitneyYPL
Sunny works through issues about her older brother’s alcohol and drug problem while visiting her Grandfather in Florida.

This semi-autobiographical graphic novel takes place in August 1976 and Sunny has been sent to spend part of her summer in West Palm Beach, FL, with her Grandfather at his
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retirement community. She ends up making a friend, a similar aged boy named Buzz, and they go on adventures and bond over comic books. Throughout the story, we see different flashbacks of Sunny and her family and the strain her older brother, Dale, puts on them. We start to see an incline of his substance abuse and the pressure he puts on Sunny to keep it a secret. Through the help of comics and her Grandfather, she is able to express her feelings about Dale. This story can help children in similar circumstances not feel ashamed and be able to speak out to someone they trust. This is a quick read and recommend it for 6th – 10th grade readers. It is also light in text so it may attract reluctant readers. Aside from the serious message, it is very humorous. -CC
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LibraryThing member AliceaP
Sunny is looking forward to her awesome summer vacation going to the beach with her best friend...and then she gets sent off to stay with her grandfather at his retirement community in Florida. What Sunny views as a punishment is actually her family trying to shield her from her brother's trip to
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rehab. Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm looks at substance abuse from the viewpoint of a younger sibling which is rather refreshing and ultimately important when a child is trying to find books that relate to themselves. (I don't know anyone with a picture perfect childhood so it's a good idea if children's literature reflects that.) The references to substance abuse are rather oblique for the majority of the book so it's not heavy handed in the slightest. For the most part, we see Sunny acting pretty snotty as she comes to terms with the fact her summer is not going to be anything like she had planned but intermixed with that is a healthy dose of fear, anxiety, and shame. Remember she has no idea what has caused her family to send her away but she think she must have done something terribly wrong. (Also, her grandfather is the mack daddy of the retirement community and it's hilarious.) She does manage to make a friend of commensurate age though and the two of them develop a mutual interest in superheroes and comics.

It's hard to say where the author lands in terms of keeping family secrets (they experienced something similar to Sunny in reality) but what the reader does see is Sunny learning about the difficulty of maintaining secret identities as she gets into reading comics. By the end, she is told what has happened with her brother and the reader (if they hadn't already figured it out) sees all the puzzle pieces fall into place. Because the reader is seeing everything through the eyes of Sunny the reading experience is quite different from some of the realistic fiction on this topic that I've read before. I think from that standpoint this is quite a unique and important book especially for children who have experienced this and are feeling quite alone and isolated. In fact, at the end they tacked on a bit about talking to someone if you know a family member is struggling with substance abuse. If you're creating a booklist for your students and you're looking for material that touches on substance abuse and/or family dynamics you could do a lot worse than picking Sunny Side Up. 8/10
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LibraryThing member rretzler
Sunny Side Up is a middle-grade graphic novel written by the brother and sister creators of the Babymouse series of graphic novels. The book is a semi-autobiographical account inspired by their childhood. Jennifer also wrote several Newbery Honor books.

The book takes place in 1976. Sunny is a
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10-year-old living with her parents and two brothers - one a toddler and the other a senior in high school. She is eagerly anticipating a trip to the shore with her family and best friend when she is sent to stay with her Grandfather in Florida for the summer. Florida is not what she expected - instead of Disney World, it is a retirement community with grumpy old people, visits to the post office, and dinner at 4:30, until she meets Buzz. Buzz shares with her his love of comic books and how to make money by collecting golf balls. But Sunny is tired of keeping other people's secrets, like her Grandfather's smoking when he is not supposed to, and what her older brother does behind her parents' backs, and she finally explodes like a volcano.

The authors explain at the end of the book that they wrote it because when they were young, they had a close relative with a substance abuse problem. They wanted to let kids know that they don't have to feel ashamed like they did and they don't have to keep secrets.

I thought the book handled a sensitive issue very well - it was funny, but also a little sad. It sends a great message to kids, even if they do not have the same issues at home. I think it might help kids understand that while substance abuse might not affect them directly, it may be something a friend is facing. When I was growing up in the 70's, my cousin, who was three years older, had a substance abuse problem. We only saw my uncle's family every few years, but I recall on one occasion when they were visiting, my cousin stole his father's medication and then took our motorcycle for a joy ride, wrecked it and injured himself. Perhaps it is because we now live in a different community, or perhaps it is not as prevalent 40 years later, but it doesn't seem that substance abuse is as common as it was in the 70's. I'm glad that there are still those who are willing to address it, because between the time my older son was in 5th grade and my younger son was in 5th grade, our school system stopped the DARE program, which I think is terrible. We did not pick this book out because it dealt with a serious and sensitive issue, but I'm glad now that we did pick it out because it gave me a chance to open a dialogue with my younger son.
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LibraryThing member lissabeth21
I grabbed this for Jackson, but I enjoyed it so much! Multigenerational and family-oriented, this was a great story about the effects of an adored older brother's addiction on a young girl in the late 70s. How could this be funny and interesting and appropriate for is all those things.
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The illustrations are expressive and the arc for Sunny is wonderful. It can be very simple for kids, but full of loaded background and societal, cultural stuff for adults who know the times. I'm glad I picked it up and can't wait to book chat with Jackson about it.
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LibraryThing member booklover3258
This was a cute story. A girl goes to Florida for the summer and stays with her grandfather. At first, everything is boring, but she finds a friend who opens her world up to comics. Great for any age to read. Deals with abuse, drugs, lying and how to treat people. Illustrations were wonderful as
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well. Happy ending.
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LibraryThing member LibrarianRyan
This was such a fun surprise. I figured it would be a fun breezy book based on the cover, but I never expected it to take place in the 70s or be as deep as it was. Sunny has been pushed off to her grandpa’s Florida retirement village for the summer. The story goes back and forth between her
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summer with gramps and the year+ at home in Pennsylvania before she travels. While most of this is a sunny fun read, it does deal with bigger and deeper issues of substance abuse and how it affects a family. It does so in a natural way that does not wrap everything up in a tiddy bow at the end. It shows that life has its difficulties, they are not your fault, and that you can get through them. It was a wonderful book and I am glad there is a sequel.
#Popsugarchallenge - has 3 generations
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LibraryThing member kmjanek
This is a graphic novel for upper elementary or middle school. Sunny is sent to visit her Grandpa in Florida for the summer. Sunny envisions Disney World, but ends up in a retirement community full of nothing but old people. Sunny is not happy about her haircut, her pull out bed, eating a buffet
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dinner at 4pm and having no one her age around. Finally, she runs into a boy her age that is really into comic books. He shares them with her and they start hanging out almost every day. He invites her to his house and Sunny really likes his family because they seem so happy. The authors hint that not everything had been happy in Sunny’s family life. The story takes place in 1975-76 and it jumps back and forth to unravel the events of Sunny’s life and why she ended up in Florida.

The reader begins to see that Sunny’s brother has a drug and alcohol problem. She is embarrassed by this and keeps quiet so she does not attract further attention to herself. Her parents are not really aware of what is going on in her brother’s life. At one point, Sunny’s brother unintentionally hits her and that is when her parents step in and send Sunny to Florida to be with her grandfather for the summer. Sunny has kept this all bottled up until finally she breaks down and shares her feelings with her Grandpa. Sunny felt that everything was her fault. Fortunately, her grandfather told her none of it was her fault.

The story deals with drug and alcohol problems in a sensitive and understandable way. It is a positive story for younger students. There are funny parts to the story, so it is not dark and depressing. Just very realistic. Sunny has a loving and caring family. The authors show that Sunny does care about her brother, things just got bad when he became addicted. But the story also showed that people with addictions can be helped.

This would be a good addition to a middle school library. It would be good to share with counselors, who could share it with their students facing the same problems. It is an easy read. The panels are bright, funny and tell the story with emotion. It would be a good book for any student who enjoys graphic novels as this would be a realistic fiction choice. It does deal with the effects of drugs and alcohol, but not in a graphic or controversial way. The story would appeal to both boys and girls, but the cover will probably attract more girls. It might also be a good choice for a book club book.
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LibraryThing member ewyatt
Sunny is not thrilled when her beach vacation is canceled and she is sent to Florida to visit her Gramps. The time starts out rough as Sunny is on an uncomfortable bed doing not-so-great activities. Soon she finds a friend, discovers superhero graphic novels, and gets some peace about her older
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brother who seems to be having problems with drugs.
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LibraryThing member LVStrongPuff
I liked this graphic novel. The drawings are nicely done and the story kept me reading through the book. There is a serious tone to the book, but not so much that it would overwhelm children.
LibraryThing member karenvg3
I kept a seeing this one leave the shelves so I had to see what it was about. A very cute story about dealing with guilt and keeping secrets and finding friends. 4 ☀️☀️☀️☀️ sunshine’s for Sunny.


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0545741661 / 9780545741668

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