As a school librarian, I couldn’t agree more emphatically, but it was truly something to behold when our upper grade students welcomed Mr. Auxier for our annual Author Day after having read his novel as part of their language arts classes. Sweep is set in Victorian England and features exploited child chimney sweeps like Nan Sparrow, a twelve year-old orphan who is about to outgrow the dimensions of a typical chimney stack. Students not only resonated with Mr. Auxier’s captivating presentation, including a book talk incorporating yo yo tricks, but he also silenced the audience with a moving solo that was instantly recognizable from the pages of his book.
The Q and A was rich with deep questions by students who had read closely and had many insightful observations, and I was proud of how our students had made their way through what was a very challenging book—nearly 400 pages in length, replete with advanced vocabulary with words like bespoke and obsolescence, in a context of the labor reform movement of the 1800s. Not your typical reading fare for 4th through 8th graders. But, I suspect that Mr. Auxier’s impact doesn’t end there. We are left with the reminder “That’s how it works, doesn’t it? We are saved by saving others.”
Deanna Barber, Librarian