Great Graphic Novels (#GGN2024) Featured Review: Sunshine: A Graphic Novel by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

  • Sunshine: A Graphic Novel
  • by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
  • Publisher: Graphix/Scholastic
  • Publication Date: April 18, 2023
  • ISBN-13: 9781338356328

In this graphic memoir, a standalone companion to Hey, Kiddo! (2018), Krosoczka recalls the summer he spent as a counselor at a camp for critically ill children, teens and their families. While at camp, he makes strong personal connections with the campers, his fellow counselors, and the adults who work there. He also comes to understand some of the complexities of life, illness, and death and how art can make a difference in the world.

Teens frequently seek coming-of-age stories which elicit strong emotional responses, and Sunshine certainly produces those feelings without becoming didactic or sentimental. Krosoczka deftly balances the difficult realities of Camp Sunshine with his own ever-changing perspectives of life and art. Of particular note in this memoir are Krosoczka’s unique illustrations. A limited color palette of gray and orange with the occasional splash of yellow helps to capture his multifaceted thoughts and memories from that time. The photographs, newspaper articles, and drawings that open the chapters add authenticity to Krosoczka’s experiences.

Teens who have already read Hey, Kiddo! will want to read more about Krosoczka’s life in this story. This graphic memoir will also be popular with teens who read novels and watch films like Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, and Five Feet Apart by Rachel Lippencott. Recommend this book to younger teens who have read Sharon Draper’s Out of My Heart or Rob Harrell’s Wink.

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The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination.

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.