The Summer of 1976. Hint: It's Not all Disney


During the summer of 1976, Sunny Lewin (10) is going to spend the summer in Disney World. At least that's what she thinks ... until she gets there. Instead, she is staying with her grandfather in his Florida retirement home. Sunny has no choice but to befriend Buzz, the only other kid in the area. Together, they rescue cats for the old women nearby, swap golf balls for cash, and read comics. Life is more than adventure, though. Sunny has some deep secrets, and when her guard is down, they all come pouring out.

BTSYA / Teen Reader (13):

I enjoyed Sunny Side Up. I love how this graphic novel shows people of Generation Z and what growing up in the 1970s was like: adults smoked inside the house even with kids around; buckling up in the car was rare; and kids as young as 10 were sent to run errands across town. It was as if I was getting a glimpse as to how my parents were raised!  Sunny’s characterization is also amazing. Readers could understand every choice she made due to cleverly placed flashbacks that explained her backstory and why exactly she was sent to Florida for the summer. [I’m not going to spoil it.] Sunny Side Up also takes on heavy topics, such as drug use, but in a way that is easy for kids to understand. 

The clean artwork gives readers a visual of what was going on and fits the graphic novel format/style. Readers get a great visual idea of what was going on. Overall, this is a sweet graphic novel that draws readers into Sunny's world. It is well written and well drawn. I recommend this for people around Sunny’s age, which is 10, though teenagers and even adults looking for nostalgia can enjoy it.

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

Graphic novel fans will not be disappointed in this story that is part summer adventure, part family, and part walk through a world nothing like theirs.

Content Awareness Factors:

There are references to drugs.

Type of Book:
This is a graphic novel for upper elementary and middle grade readers.
Educational Themes:

Sunny is sent to Florida because of her brother's behavior. As the story unfolds, we learn more about is causing the behavior, but, more importantly, are getting some insight into Sunny's feelings and how his choices affect the whole family. The story can lead to great discussions not just about family! Parents, invite your kids to ask you about what it was like growing up "back in the day."

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
10 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
10 and Up
Age of child:
Teen STAR Review Team, Be the Star You Are!™ . Reviewer age: 13
Purchase Recommendation:
Buy. Kids will enjoy the visual story and easily relate to Sunny. Adults will find it a nostalgic walk through the mid-1970s.

Title Sunny Side Up

Sunny, Book 1

Author Jennifer L. Holm
Publisher Graphix, Imprint Scholastic Inc. © 2015
Illustrators Matthew Holm
ISBN 9780545741668
Material Paperback
Cost $12.99
Genres Family, Friendship, Comics | Graphic Novels
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