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By Jonathan Auxier

“We save ourselves by saving others.”

– Toby Squall

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Would you like to read ‘Sweep’ with your girl’s book club? Download our BTB Book Club guide for girls below.

Book Summary


Historical Fiction, Fantasy


Friendship, Family, Home, Sacrificial Love, Magic, Prejudice , Poverty, Religion/Judaism, Forced Child Labour


8 – 12 years


This story begins with a young girl named Nan Sparrow and a man known only as “The Sweep”. The Sweep is a loving, self-sacrificing father figure to Nan, but years of extreme poverty, homelessness, and chimney sweeping have caused to him become very ill. When The Sweep knows he is about to die, he leaves little Nan sleeping on the roof of a successful chimney sweep’s place of business to ensure that she will have work and be able to survive. He also leaves behind his beloved hat, and a small, mysterious lump of still-warm chimney soot that Nan begins to carry with her wherever she goes.

Nan gets older and finds that chimney sweepwork is proving to be more challenging as she grows. One day while sweeping, she finds herself completely stuck within a fireplace flue. Her fellow chimney sweeper and rival, Roger, comes to free her but takes little pity on her situation. He lights a fire in the chimney to force Nan out. She nearly dies in the fire but finds that The Sweep’s char is much more of a gift than she realized.

This book is about the power of sacrificial love and its ability to overcome adversity, pain, and even death. This book reminds us of the sacrificial love of Jesus, and of how we can love others fully, even when we feel like we have nothing to give.

Content Warning:

Some scenes in this book could be frightening or sad for sensitive/young readers. The story is based in Victorian London and details the lives of poor, orphaned children forced to work as chimney sweeps. It also describes the prejudices that innocent Jewish people faced during that time, (and still face). The overarching message of this book is one of love and hope, but suffering, abuse, injuries, illnesses, and deaths are included.

Why Corinna loves this book:

The Sweep’s love for Nan is so pure and sacrificial. He is poor and sick, with very little to give, but she feels so confident in his care that she does not recognize his struggles until well after his passing. The Sweep shows her that making others feel loved is both free and priceless. In this story, Jonathan Auxier tells us that reading a book a second time is “a sign that you really love the book.” I personally have read The Sweep more than twice and look forward to several more re-reads, especially with my children.

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