7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #630: Featuring Andrea Zuill

h1 March 17th, 2019 by jules


Did any of you see last year’s Business Pig by author-illustrator Andrea Zuill? I didn’t end up writing about it anywhere, but it is a 2018 picture book I enjoyed. Jasper the Business Pig (who prefers flows charts over foraging or mud baths) made me laugh — just to look at him did. Zuill has a distinctive style, and her expressive line work and understated humor bring to life endearing oddball characters. She’s back this year with another awkward and eccentric, yet lovable, character — Sweety.

Sweety (Schwartz & Wade), on shelves at the end of this month, is the story of the character pictured above. “Sweety was awkward,” the book opens. “Even for a naked mole rat.” She’s what her grandmother calls “a little square peg,” though Sweety has no clue what that means. She doesn’t quite fit in anywhere. For one, she’s intense, which we learn on a very funny spread in which a group of children share their plush dolls and what their names are (Ellie, Sunshine, David, and the like). Sweety alarms them with her passionate, loud response when they ask about her doll: “This is Warrior Princess Zorna! Friend of the friendless, destroyer of evil, lover of chocolate-beet cake with cream cheese frosting! Her favorite color is aubergine and my mom made her for me!” Sweety also has hobbies that make her stand out; she can’t, for instance, find anyone to come to her house and help her identify fungi.


“Occasionally Sweety did things that others had a hard time comprehending.
Like the day she gave her book report through interpretive dance.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


One thing I like about this story is that no one in the book ever actually bullies Sweety. She’s merely aware of how different she is and even wonders if she should change. (Isn’t that the way for the self-aware misfits of the world?) But then there’s her Aunt Ruth, who was once also a young square peg and whom Sweety adores. “Aunt Ruth said that being different was one of the best things about her life, and that if you stayed true to yourself, you’d find your people.” This prompts Sweety to wonder what it would be like if she made efforts to do that very thing — try to more loudly find her people, that is. Instead, she decides to trust her aunt and continue to do her favorite things, even if she’s the only one doing them. (Now I’m humming what is, arguably, last year’s best song and a fabulous manifesto, Janelle Monáe’s “I Like That.”) After all, as she comes to understand, being Sweety is “pretty awesome.”


“There were times when Sweety wondered what it would be like to be someone else. …”
(Click first image to see spread in its entirety and read full text)


Throw a rock, and you can hit a picture book about Being Yourself. But this one stands out. It’s genuinely funny, especially our intrepid protagonist, and it’s not a story trying too hard. Zuill doesn’t hammer home some moral; she lets readers fall in love with this character and step inside her shoes a bit. As the School Library Journal review puts it: “The touching and comedic prose … pairs perfectly with the adorkable characters.” Yeah. That, too.

Here are some more spreads from the book. …



“The best days were when Aunt Ruth visited. …”
(Click either image to see spread in its entirety and read full text)



“What if she stepped it up a notch?
Would her people be able to spot her more easily? …”

(Click either image to see spread in its entirety and read full text)



“… And who knew when someone else pretty awesome might come along?”
(Click either image to see spread in its entirety and read full text)


“Hi, Sandy. My name’s Sweety. Would you like to learn a secret handshake? …”
(Click to enlarge and read full text)


SWEETY. Copyright © 2019 by Andrea Zuill. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, New York.

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) Misfits, like Sweety.

2) Celebrating my daughter’s birthday all week. She is a stellar human being.

3) Chocolate cake with homemade icing.

4) Showing the girls Battlestar Galactica.

5) Reading aloud Elena K. Arnold’s Damsel to the girls. I’m still processing THAT ENDING.

6) It feels like Spring where I live.

7) We saw Lucy Knisley a couple weeks ago at Parnassus and got a family portrait.

I would like to add, though it has no place in “kicks,” that I’m saddened by the terrorist attack on the Muslim community in New Zealand. My heart goes out to them. I stand against hatred and white supremacy. I know you all are with me.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

5 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #630: Featuring Andrea Zuill”

  1. Good morning. We need more Sweety’s in the world. Love this character. I saw the doodle I used to draw as a child in the illustrations.
    Jules, Oh my, 15 for oldest.! how can that be? I share you sentiments for the people if NZ and around the world.
    So I don’t know where last week went to and I missed. My kicks for this week:
    1 Portland International Film Festival: saw 3 fulms. My favorite was Maya.
    2. Teaching poetry when I subbed this week.
    3. Poetry interview with Laura Purdie Salas.
    4. Reading scholarship apps of incredible women.
    5. I’m in FB and IG jail because of my post on beets at Deowriter.
    6. First grader: “You don’t look a day over 50.”
    7. Warmer weather, finally.
    Have a great week.

  2. Hello, Imps! Hello, Andrea and Sweety! I hope everyone is doing well. 🙂

    Jules: I hope her birthday was excellent.

    Jone: Yay for poems and films and all good things.

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Auditions
    2) Performances
    3) Sharing
    4) Caring
    5) Treats
    6) Truths
    7) Freedom

  3. SWEETY!!! I love Sweety! And such fun illustrations. Thank you for sharing this book.

    Love all the Kicks so far today. Jules – A Very Happy Birthday to your Older!
    And YES! Let’s see more love and compassion and patience and sincerity. I have been gratified to see so much overcoming of religious difference to support those who are suffering as a result of the NZ senseless killings and violence.

    My Kicks: 1-7 starting to feel better after having the flu for a week!

  4. Oh my goodness, how I love this Sweety! Give me the misfit dorks any day. A naked mole rat after my own heart.

    Jules – hooray for celebrating birthdays for a week (longer, if you can.) Homemade cake, yum. What a good week.
    And yes, in total agreement with you on that terrible terrorist attack in Christchurch, heartened by good people who responded in the midst of it, and the PM’s immediate action in the face of the tragedy. True leadership

    Jone – hooray for PIFF! And poetry, scholarship applications and warmer weather.

    LW – Love all you kicks this week, especially Performing and Caring/

    Allison – so glad you are recovered from the flu.

    My quick kicks:
    1) Finishing a good book.
    2) A good work conference.
    3) Finishing up another busy work week.
    4) Having dinner with a friend and realizing we both love the movie “Only You” so we watched it after dinner. RDJ and Marisa Tomei are so charming together.
    5) Having same friend dogsit Miss Daisy while I was at the conference. Daisy is lucky to have so many friends (as am I).
    6) Loved Captain Marvel. Can’t wait for Avengers Endgame.
    7) Sunshine.
    7.5) Another busy week ahead. Its good to have purpose.

    Have a wonderful week Imps!

  5. Here I am, belatedly!

    Jone, oh my! I’ll have to look up the beets post.

    LW: I hope you’re breaking a leg at auditions. I have no doubt you are kicking ass.

    Allison: I’m so sorry you got the flu that was floating around your family. Glad you are feeling better.

    Rachel: I have never seen Only You. I will have to fix that. And I love purpose as a kick.

    Hope you all had a happy Monday!

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