Graphic Novel Review: Sunshine by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Posted on September 28, 2023 at 8:40 am by Gene Ambaum
Sunshine: How One Camp Taught Me About Life, Death, and Hope by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Scholastic Graphix, 2023. 9781338356311. 240pp.
This is a sequel to Krosoczka’s graphic memoir Hey, Kiddo, about his parents and being raised by his grandparents. It’s worth noting if you loved that book, there are some great moments featuring Krosoczka’s grandparents in this one. But those are bookends to the main story, which is about the summer when he was sixteen when Krosoczka worked at Camp Sunshine, a place for kids with life-threatening illnesses. At the beginning, he says it changed his life, and if you’re an adult you can probably imagine what he learned from helping kids. But it’s the characters that bring it to life — Sister Francis, who puts up with no BS; Mrs. Gormley, the chain-smoking chaperone; Gary, team leader for the Teen Group; Diego, the quiet-at-first kid who Krosoczka helps one-on-one (his drawing skills help them connect); and the Orfaos, the family he dines with throughout the week. There’s a mascot costume that really stinks, and some great campfire conversations in addition to all the normal camp hijinks one would expect. Somehow the positive attitude and general corniness of all camp experiences don’t get in the way and everyone has a great time (including me, an adult reader who is usually too cynical to enjoy books like this).
I’d put this in any grade school and middle school library, and many in high school would enjoy it, too. It’s lovely, and it’s going on my shelf next to Mike Dawson’s Troop 142 (still the funniest camp book out there), Vera Brosgol’s Be Prepared (I’ll never forget the outhouse), and Chris Grine’s paranormal Secrets of Camp Whatever.