Sweep, The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier is a heartwarming story about an eleven-year-old orphan who works as a chimney sweep in London in 1875. Auxier masterfully mixes a magical tale with the truth about the dangerous lives of chimney sweeps (often children) in the 1800s.
When Nan was younger, she was looked after by a kindhearted man known as The Sweep. He told Nan many stories and when it was time for him to depart, he left her a magical piece of coal.
Nan was a climber and one of the best in London, but after getting stuck in a flue, she discovers that her piece of coal has turned into an adorable golem. She and her friend Toby believe The Sweep gave Nan the golem to protect her. Nan desperately needs protection from the cruel master sweep she is indentured to. But the sweet and naive golem needs looking after as well and he and Nan form a warm friendship.
Nan resents that the people of London see the soot-covered children as happy little sweeps, not to mention good luck to have at their weddings. She becomes determined to fight for the children who are forced into this dangerous job and reveal the truth about child sweeps.
There is so much to enjoy about this book—action, suspense, magic, justice, and the importance of friendship. It’s destined to become a classic.