Review of Sunshine

by Jarrett J. Krosoczka; illus. by the author
Middle School, High School    Graphix/Scholastic    240 pp.
4/23    978133856328    $24.99
Paper ed.  9781338356311    $14.99
e-book ed.  9781338747621    $14.99

This follow-up graphic memoir to Hey, Kiddo (rev. 9/18) is aesthetically similar to its predecessor but altogether different in subject and scope. Krosoczka chronicles his time at age sixteen volunteering at Camp Sunshine, a camp for pediatric cancer patients and their families. Jarrett’s assignments are one-on-one time with thirteen-year-old Diego and intermittent check-ins with the Orfao family, who are there with Eric, a lively young camper with leukemia. Diego’s health is in decline, resulting in his use of a wheelchair and his reluctance to attend camp, but through a shared love of superheroes (drawn on command by Jarrett), a connection is made. Similarly, Jarrett grows close to Eric Orfao and his siblings and mother. Joyful camp moments (campfires, fishing, arts and crafts) alternate with earnest conversations regarding mortality, faith, and personal struggles—and the tragic reality that not every camper will reach adulthood. Krosoczka’s illustrations—using a lively holding line colored with orange, yellow, and gray washes, and panel layouts—actively contribute to the heartfelt storytelling, effectively expressing changes in perspective, mood, and significance. Chapter dividers provide artifacts such as letters, photographs, and drawings, etc.; appended with an epilogue and an author’s note.

From the July/August 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Patrick Gall
Patrick Gall works as a librarian for children in preschool through eighth grade at the Catherine Cook School in Chicago.

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