Reviews for Will Sparrow's Road


Booklist Reviews 2012 October #1
Meet young Will Sparrow, whose father has sold him to an innkeeper for a daily supply of ale. Introduced as "a liar and a thief," Will flees from the inn and takes to the road, where he steals food, occasionally earns a coin, and meets a variety of colorful people who travel from fair to fair. While working for a malicious man who charges people to visit his collection of oddities and wonders (a unicorn skull, a mermaid in a jar, a live monster), Will befriends Grace, a girl billed as a monster because of the silky hair on her face, and her protector, a dwarfish "little man" with a fierce demeanor. Set in Elizabethan England, the novel is built upon Cushman's thorough research and solid understanding of the period. An author's note is appended. Though the story loses steam in the end, many readers will find Will's journey compelling along the way, as he learns that things (and people) are not always what they seem. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Cushman's historical novels are always in demand, especially among teachers, who find them a popular teaching tool. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
After escaping the evil clutches of the innkeeper to whom his drunken father sold him, Will joins up with a magician, a blind juggler, and a troupe of "prodigies and oddities." Readers will connect with affable and quick-witted Will; by the end of this coming-of-age journey, he has a different take on those around him and has found a family and a place in life.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #6
"Will Sparrow was a liar and a thief, and hungry, so when he saw the chance to steal a cold rabbit pie from the inn's kitchen and blame it on the dog, he took it -- both the chance and the pie." Best known for her feisty heroines, Cushman (Catherine, Called Birdy, rev. 7/94; The Ballad of Lucy Whipple, rev. 9/96) herself takes a chance with Will, her first male protagonist. Readers will immediately connect with this affable and quick-witted boy as he grabs that pie and shortly thereafter escapes the evil clutches of the innkeeper to whom his drunken father sold him. After a time of living rough in the sixteenth-century English countryside, Will makes his way to a market fair, where he joins up with a magician, a blind juggler, a clever pig and its owner, and a troupe of "prodigies and oddities." Cushman does a fabulous job communicating the sensibility of these fairs -- their smells, sounds, and activities. She also manages the tricky balance of keeping her characters engaging and understandable for her audience while still making them very much of their time (with, for instance, a frank description of Will's initial unease around one of the "oddities," a so-called catgirl). By the end of this coming-of-age journey -- as much interior as exterior -- Will not only has a different take on the people around him but has found a family and a place in life as well. monica edinger Copyright 2012 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2012 May #2
In Elizabethan England, young Will hits the road with an assortment of human characters and Duchess, one smart pig. His mother deserted him, his father sold him to an innkeeper for his fill of ale and the innkeeper is about to sell him for a chimney s[Wed Oct 1 02:25:33 2014] enhancedContent.pl: Wide character in print at E:\websites\aquabrowser\IMCPL\app\site\enhancedContent.pl line 249. weep just for stealing a pie to feed his empty stomach. Will, a self-proclaimed liar and thief, is also bold and quick-witted and so runs away. On the road, he encounters a thief, a cheating dentist, an illusionist, a blind juggler, the smart pig and her owner and Master Tidball, a purveyor of oddities. Traveling with the last from fair to fair, he slowly befriends one of those oddities, a girl who is advertised as a cat. (She has hypertrichosis, a genetic disorder causing facial hair, as Cushman explains in her note.) The ragtag entourage also includes a dwarf. Along the way, readers get a flavor for Elizabethan foods, clothing and song. Cushman, a Newbery Award– and Honor–winning author for her historical novels featuring girls, now presents a boy as her protagonist. She sends him on an inner journey as well as a physical one, allowing him to grow in empathy and to see past people's physical appearances into their true character. A compelling coming-of-age road trip. (author's note, suggested reading, selected resources) (Historical fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Kirkus Reviews 2012 October #1
In Elizabethan England, young Will hits the road with an assortment of human characters and Duchess, one smart pig. His mother deserted him, his father sold him to an innkeeper for his fill of ale and the innkeeper is about to sell him for a chimney sweep just for stealing a pie to feed his empty stomach. Will, a self-proclaimed liar and thief, is also bold and quick-witted and so runs away. On the road, he encounters a thief, a cheating dentist, an illusionist, a blind juggler, the smart pig and her owner and Master Tidball, a purveyor of oddities. Traveling with the last from fair to fair, he slowly befriends one of those oddities, a girl who is advertised as a cat. (She has hypertrichosis, a genetic disorder causing facial hair, as Cushman explains in her note.) The ragtag entourage also includes a dwarf. Along the way, readers get a flavor for Elizabethan foods, clothing and song. Cushman, a Newbery Award– and Honor–winning author for her historical novels featuring girls, now presents a boy as her protagonist. She sends him on an inner journey as well as a physical one, allowing him to grow in empathy and to see past people's physical appearances into their true character. A compelling coming-of-age road trip. (author's note, suggested reading, selected resources) (Historical fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 October #5

Impudent, headstrong, and "a liar and a thief," 12-year-old Will Sparrow is also a hero to remember in this rousing story from Newbery Medalist Cushman (The Midwife's Apprentice), set in Elizabethan England. Abandoned by his mother and sold by his alcoholic father to an abusive innkeeper in exchange for unlimited ale, Will soon winds up on the dangerous open road. Will tries to outsmart a stellar cast of thieves, tricksters, and con artists--underestimating all of them and getting taken advantage of repeatedly. He eventually finds a place on the circuit of fairs with Master Tidball and his caravan of "oddities and prodigies," which includes "the world's smartest pig" and a whiskered woman billed as half-cat ("It seemed to Will that Master Tidball made a good living for someone who did nothing but watch others work. Will himself could do that, he thought"). Offering action, humor, and heart in equal doses, Cushman's story is, at its core, about creating and claiming a family of one's own. Readers will be ready to follow Will anywhere from the very first page. Ages 10-14. Agent: Elizabeth Harding, Curtis Brown. (Nov.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 November

Gr 5-8--"I care for no one but myself and nothing but my belly." Somewhere in England in the year 1599, this is the philosophy of 13-year-old Will Sparrow, abandoned by his mother, sold to an innkeeper by his father in exchange for unlimited ale, and on the run from his grim prospects as a chimney sweep. He is barefoot and hungry, and his naïvet and desperation make him a repeated target for ruthless folks along the way. When he hires on with an oddity show, traveling from fair to fair, Will thinks he's found a benefactor in its owner, Thomas Tidball, only to discover that things are not always as they seem. It may just be that the disagreeable dwarf, Lancelot Fitzgeoffrey, and the "creature" Greymalkin, a girl with the head of a cat, provide the care and friendship he seeks. Vivid description brings the period and setting to life, and colorful characters flesh out the simple plotline. Fascinating, sometimes seemingly preposterous, details are solidly corroborated in the informative author's note that reflects Cushman's extensive research. As she did in Catherine Called Birdy (1994) and The Midwife's Apprentice (1995, both Clarion), the author has skillfully evoked a period far outside readers' experience to tell a good and accessible story.Marie Orlando, formerly at Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY

[Page 102]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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