Review of Sweep


by Louise Greig; illus. by Júlia Sardà 

Preschool, Primary    Simon    32 pp. 

9/19    978-1-5344-3908-5    $17.99 

e-book ed.  978-1-5344-3910-8    $10.99 

In this story about emotions and self-control, a boy named Ed’s bad mood escalates from a tiny whirlwind into something sentient that “swept over him in a raging storm and stuck.” The digital art shows Ed storming forward, sweeping leaves into piles that grow exponentially and dominate his world. “Now his bad mood had swept through the whole town. The birds had stopped singing. The flowers had disappeared…Good, thought Ed’s bad mood.” The page layouts, showing the protagonist and the town becoming progressively buried by the volume and weight of leaves, are particularly evocative of a mind overwhelmed. Eventually, a new wind whips up from another direction, changing the situation and Ed’s mood and allowing him to see more clearly what is enjoyable around him. This new wind has brought him a kite, which lifts his mood “higher and higher—up to the sky,” vanquishing the bad mood. This optimistic turn of events is tempered at the end by the question of whether the boy could allow a bad mood to overpower him to that degree again. “His first thought is WiIl I? and his second thought is…Or not?” The final spread shows the boy smiling and looking up despite being surrounded by swirling leaves. The story can be enjoyed on its surface level but can also be explored more deeply for readers who struggle with managing darker thoughts and intense emotions. Pair this with Molly Bang’s classic When Sophie Gets Angry…Really, Really Angry or Lemony Snicket and Rilla Alexander’s Swarm of Bees (rev. 3/19).

From the September/October 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Julie Roach
Julie Roach

Julie Roach, chair of the 2020 Caldecott Committee, manages youth services at the Cambridge Public Library in Massachusetts. She also teaches children’s literature at Simmons University’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science and at Lesley University.

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