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Sweep
Cover of Sweep
Sweep
The Story of a Girl and Her Monster
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For nearly a century, Victorian London relied on "climbing boys"—orphans owned by chimney sweeps—to clean flues and protect homes from fire. The work was hard, thankless, and brutally dangerous. Eleven-year-old Nan Sparrow is quite possibly the best climber who ever lived—and a girl. With her wits and will, she's managed to beat the deadly odds time and time again. But when Nan gets stuck in a deadly chimney fire, she fears her time has come. Instead, she wakes to find herself in an abandoned attic. And she is not alone. Huddled in the corner is a mysterious creature—a golem—made from ash and coal. This is the creature that saved her from the fire.

Sweep is the story of a girl and her monster. Together, these two outcasts carve out a life—saving one another in the process. By one of today's most powerful storytellers, Sweep is a heartrending adventure about the everlasting gifts of friendship and hope.

For nearly a century, Victorian London relied on "climbing boys"—orphans owned by chimney sweeps—to clean flues and protect homes from fire. The work was hard, thankless, and brutally dangerous. Eleven-year-old Nan Sparrow is quite possibly the best climber who ever lived—and a girl. With her wits and will, she's managed to beat the deadly odds time and time again. But when Nan gets stuck in a deadly chimney fire, she fears her time has come. Instead, she wakes to find herself in an abandoned attic. And she is not alone. Huddled in the corner is a mysterious creature—a golem—made from ash and coal. This is the creature that saved her from the fire.

Sweep is the story of a girl and her monster. Together, these two outcasts carve out a life—saving one another in the process. By one of today's most powerful storytellers, Sweep is a heartrending adventure about the everlasting gifts of friendship and hope.

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Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    4.5
  • Lexile:
    630
  • Interest Level:
    MG
  • Text Difficulty:
    2 - 3

Recommended for you

About the Author-
  • Jonathan Auxier is the New York Times bestselling author of The Night Gardener, Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard, and Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, which the Wall Street Journal called "as delightful a magical story as readers . . . will hope to find." He lives in Pittsburgh with his family.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from July 9, 2018
    A chimney sweep disappears from a London rooftop, leaving six-year-old Nan Sparrow alone, save for a hat and a lump of mysteriously ever-warm charcoal—her char. To survive, Nan joins a gang of “climbing boys” owned by the abusive Wilkie Crudd. By age 11, she is the finest sweep of them all, but following a brutal chimney fire, she discovers that her char has become a golem, which she names Charlie, and that he has saved her life. As the two hide from Crudd, Nan grows to love Charlie and his particular brand of magic, and she learns that golems are, by nature, ephemeral: if Charlie can flame up, he can almost certainly flame out. A cast of fully fleshed (and sooted) characters contribute texture and community, and Auxier (The Night Gardener) mixes moments of triumph and pure delight (new snow, rooftop vistas) with dark, Dickensian themes (child labor, sickness, poverty). Told in two allusive sections—“Innocence” and “Experience,” after Blake’s volume—that pivot between Nan’s past and present, this dazzling, warmhearted novel contemplates selflessness and saving, deep love and what makes a monster. Ages 8–12. Agent: Joe Regal, Regal Hoffmann & Assoc.

  • School Library Journal

    August 1, 2018

    Gr 5-8-A stunning historical fantasy novel about the power of friendship, our potential for courage, and the beauty of remembering loved ones, set in Victorian England. Nan is one of the many child sweeps who have the dangerous job of cleaning chimneys. She wakes one morning to find her beloved father figure, the Sweep, gone, a lump of char in his place. Years later, Nan gets caught in a chimney fire and is rescued by the char, who springs to life as a Golem named Charlie. Nan soon befriends a young teacher named Miss Bloom, from whom she learns that Golems no longer live after their purpose is served. When a young sweep dies, Nan, her fellow sweeps, and Miss Bloom organize a protest on May Day to reveal the dangers of their job to the general public. Meanwhile, Nan realizes the Golem's true purpose and with it, the difficulty of letting go. Auxier phenomenally weaves historical facts and fantasy. While the feats of these child sweeps seem incredible, Auxier provides back matter in the form of historical notes to clarify fact from fiction. Nan's strong yet vulnerable personality will appeal to readers, and a realistic set of secondary characters add depth to the plot. The novel's structure is a nod to William Blake and will delight teachers and librarians. VERDICT Excellent writing and skillful integration of historical fact with compelling characters make this a must-buy where middle grade fantasy is in demand.-Amy McInerney, Falmouth Elementary School, ME

    Copyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from August 1, 2018
    A young chimney sweep gathers an unusual family around her in this bittersweet historical fantasy of love and loss.Eleven-year-old Nan Sparrow's only legacies from the Sweep, her beloved mentor, are his hat and a strange lump of charcoal. After her fiery near death lets her escape her abusive master's control, this "char" awakens into a protective golem she names Charlie. Alas, Victorian London, however magical, is not kind to "climbing boys" of any gender--nor to monsters, nor to any of the odd lot of outcasts that Nan befriends. Auxier (The Night Gardener, 2014, etc.) turns his imaginative whimsy and lyrical prose to a real historical horror; while never gratuitous, he does not shy away from the appalling conditions under which children labor, nor does he ignore the sacrifices and struggle to abolish the practice. The inclusion of two (possibly three) Jewish characters suggests the intertwining of anti-Semitism and class exploitation, while references to such authors as William Blake, Daniel Defoe, and Mary Shelley demonstrate how literature could fire imaginations and highlight oppression. But the vivid characters--tough, whip-smart Nan; lovable, childlike Charlie; their engaging companions; even the marvelously Dickensian villains--prevent the story from becoming either dry history lesson or political screed. As Nan painfully, tentatively, haltingly permits love to make her vulnerable, she also gains strength and purpose: "We are saved by saving others."As heartbreaking as bleak midwinter--and as hopeful as early spring. (author's note, historical note) (Historical fantasy. 8-12)

    COPYRIGHT(2018) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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The Story of a Girl and Her Monster
Jonathan Auxier
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