It’s Victorian London in the late 1800’s… and it’s been five years since the Sweep disappeared.

Orphaned and alone, Nan Sparrow has no other choice but to work for a ruthless chimney sweep named Wilkie Crudd. She spends her days doing dangerous work–sweeping out chimneys.

The job is thankless, but with her wits and will, Nan has managed to beat the deadly odds time and time again.

This time, though, she gets stuck in a chimney fire.

She wakes to find herself unharmed in an abandoned attic. And she is not alone. Huddled in the corner is a mysterious creature—a golem—made from soot and ash.

The golem we’ll come to know as Charlie. He’s large and lovable, and Nan, our heroine, will raise him almost like her own child. He is, after all, her protector. 

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster

This book, written by Jonathan Auxier, won the 2019 Sydney Taylor Book Award. And it has won a place in my all-time tippy top favorite books. It’s a Charles-Dickens-like adventure about the everlasting gifts of friendship and wonder.

In this episode, I want to introduce you to the book… and to the man who wrote it.

In this episode, you’ll hear more about Sweep

  • The long journey and many drafts from the first visit to Prague to the final manuscript
  • The real-life children of London who were the inspiration for Nan
  • The special details of the endpaper map and deckled edges

🎧 Click here to listen to this episode on your favorite podcast player.

📄 Click here to read the transcript.

Meet Jonathan Auxier, the author of Sweep

You may know Jonathan Auxier from some of the other books he’s written: Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes, Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard, The Night Gardener,  and The Fabled Stables.

Today, Jonathan will tell us about the long journey from his initial inspiration for the story on a visit to Prague, to the extra care and attention paid to the look and feel of the book itself.

In RAR Premium, join us as we read the book, use the RAR Family Book Club Guide to use the book across the curriculum with all ages, and then meet Jonathan Auxier himself in a live Zoom:

Looking Closely at Sweep

I record a “Looking Closely” video for every book we read together in RAR Premium’s Family Book Club, to help our kids read better and dive deeper into the ideas they encounter.

Here’s the Looking Closely video for Sweep, all about the power and purpose of epigraphs in novels:

Books and Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes
The Night Gardener
Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard: A Peter Nimble Adventure
The Princess in Black
Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster
Willa the Wisp