Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster
Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster

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Annotation: In nineteenth-century England, after her father's disappearance, ten-year-old Nan Sparrow works as a "climbing boy," aiding chimney sweeps. But when her most treasured possessions end up in a fireplace, she unwittingly creates a golem.
Catalog Number: #169501
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 344 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-419-73140-8 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-2789-0
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-419-73140-2 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-2789-1
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2018014305
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Horn Book
When child chimney sweep Nan Sparrow gets stuck in a flue and nearly dies, she is saved by a "soot golem." Nan and the kind, gentle "Charlie" escape from her cruel master and make a home in an abandoned mansion. Weaving together strands of Jewish folklore, Blake's poetry, Frankenstein, child-labor reform, and magical realism, Auxier crafts a beautiful, hopeful story from the ugly realities of nineteenth-century British life.
Publishers Weekly
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. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
Gr 58 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
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
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)
Word Count: 68,335
Reading Level: 4.5
Interest Level: 4-7
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.5 / points: 10.0 / quiz: 196899 / grade: Middle Grades
Lexile: 630L

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.


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