Middle Grade Review: Sunny Makes a Splash (Sunny #4) (Jennifer L. Holm)



About This Book:

The latest in the New York Times bestselling Sunny series brings Sunny into a sink-or-swim summer, where she needs to float her first job and dive into her first maybe-flirtation.
It’s summer, and Sunny is BORED. Most of her friends are out of town. Her mom wants her to baby-sit way more than Sunny wants to baby-sit. There’s nothing good on TV.

The only place that’s cool (in a not-boring sense) and cool (in a not-hot sense) is the community pool. Sunny loves going there . . . and loves it even more when she’s offered a job at the snack shack. Soon she’s flinging fries and serving soft ice-cream like a pro . . . with the assistance of the very sweet boy who works with her.

Sunny’s mom isn’t sure Sunny should be quite so independent. But Sunny is definitely sure: Life is best when it’s free swim.


*Review contributed by Karen Yingling, Staff Reviewer *

My Tweendom– But Better!
It’s summer just outside Philadelphia in 1978, and Sunny is faced with the tedium of watching her younger brother Teddy while her mother is spending the entire summer cooking and doing laundry and being super stressed, maybe because she’s drinking too much Tab so she can fit into her double knit polyester pants and she’s trying to give up smoking (that’s all MY conjecture). There are a few times when the family is invited to go to the country club pool with friends, and when she is there, Sunny steps in to help a classmate, Tony, at the snack bar during the busy adult swim time. His dad runs the pool, and offers to hire Sunny to help out. Her mother (whom she interrupts during her programs while she’s folding socks) reluctantly agrees but lays down a lot of rules. These don’t really affect Sunny, who has an awesome summer hanging out, eating the occasional deep fried ice cream treat and debating jumping off the high dive. The older life guards include her and Tony in their after work parties, which means she gets to be out at NIGHT. Her grandfather comes for a visit because the roof of his condo has fallen in, and his going out also irritates the mother, who accuses both of them of “acting like teenagers”. At the end of the summer, Sunny heads off into 8th grade with a new friend (and potential romantic interest) to keep her company.
Good Points
Why are there not so many more books about tweens having exciting summers, hanging out with friends? There are a few, like Greenwald’s Summer at Dog Beach, Burke’s An Occasionally Happy Family, Watson’s Ways to Grow Love, and Stewart’s The Summer of Bad Ideas, but there is room for a LOT more books. Sunny had a rough time, with her older brother having drug problems in the first book, so she deserves sun and fun, and the appeal of being away from parental eyes will make this book tremendously popular. I’d also love to see more books with tweens who have jobs.

Graphic novels are particularly good for books that are set during different points in history. It’s a great way to get a glimpse of what the world really looked like. I have to love a book that almost perfectly depicts the family room in my parents’ house! (And yes. Bowls of ice cream every night while watching television. Because we didn’t serve dessert WITH dinner. To this day, my father thinks this makes sense.) The clothes were also on point, although Sunny’s fashion sense was a little more subdued than mine!

The Holms do a great job with Squish, Babymouse, and Sunny, and I’m always hoping they come up with another new character!

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