Reviews for Adventures of Sparrowboy


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 April 1997
Ages 4^-8. One morning while on his route, Henry the paperboy accidentally collides with a sparrow and discovers that he can fly--just like Falconman, his favorite comic strip superhero. The newfound power of flight enables Henry--excuse me, Sparrowboy--to deliver his papers by--er, airmail and also to right a number of minor wrongs in the neighborhood. When things magically return to normal, "everything felt just a little better." Since Henry lives on Thurber Street, some adult readers may be reminded of Walter Mitty, but that connection is hardly necessary to enjoy this lighthearted lark. Pinkney combines his signature scratchboard technique with comic strip format and appropriate typefaces to create the illustrations that accompany this affectionate fantasy, which will leave its readers feeling "a little bit better," too. ((Reviewed April 1, 1997)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

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BookPage Reviews 1997 May
Most recently comic books have appeared in the classic 32-page picture book in Brian Pinkney's The Adventures of Sparrowboy. Pinkney says he wants readers to "feel like they are reading a book that turns into a comic strip." The story, about a paperboy named Henry who encounters a mysterious sparrow and is transformed into Sparrowboy with the power to fly, works well with this approach. As the book opens, Henry is reading the paper himself-first the front page with its depressing headlines and then the comic strip "Falconman" about a sparrow that zaps a motorcycle trooper, enabling him to fly and counteract danger. As Henry resumes his paper route, the sparrow suddenly appears and zaps Henry himself for a flight of daring rescues all over the neighborhood-and finally to discover why the sparrow can't fly. The comic book feel of the book is heightened by little quips in boxes at the top of frames, as though a narrator were commenting on the action taking place. These asides keep the story from being too serious, although it's not a "funny" comic book by any means. Readers know Pinkney for his easily identified scratchboard art style. (He was awarded a Caldecott Honor and a Coretta Scott King Honor for The Faithful Friend by Robert D. San Souci.) For The Adventures of Sparrowboy, he added lots more color to the scratchboard, so the story has a lighter, brighter feel. It fairly flies, as it should, off the page with the colors and action. Copyright 1998 BookPage Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 1997
Henry enjoys the heroic exploits of comic hero Falconman, whose superpowers are bestowed on him by a falcon. So when a little bird gifts Henry similarly, he's soon saving the neighborhood from marauding bullies, menacing dogs, and more. The rescues slyly overlap and dovetail, and in fine comic-strip style, Pinkney lets the pictures do the talking, limiting text to brief action markers, dialogue, and sound effects. Copyright 1998 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 1997 #4
Henry the paperboy enjoys the heroic exploits of comic hero Falconman, whose superpowers are bestowed on him by a generous falcon. So when a little bird along his route gifts Henry similarly, he's soon saving the neighborhood-and a suddenly flightless little sparrow-from ma-rauding bullies, menacing dogs, troublesome twins, and a hungry cat. The rescues slyly overlap and dovetail, giving coherence to the fantasy contrivance, and in fine comic-strip style, Pinkney lets the pictures do the talking, limiting text to brief action markers ("Meanwhile...Bruno was still up to no good"), dialogue ("Let's catch that little birdie..."), and sound effects ("ZAP!"). Pinkney's signature scratchboard paintings are here loosened by humor and movement, and the balance of double-page spreads, single-page paintings, and panels is adroit in framing and pacing the story. Design, subject, and speed make this picture book ideal for almost-readers ready to try their own wings. r.s. Copyright 1999 Horn Book MagazineReviews

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1997 March #2
Though sobering front-page headlines worry a young paperboy, the comics especially a strip called Falconman lift him up. Quite literally, in fact. After Henry peruses a Falconman strip in which a magical falcon converts a police trooper into a superman by lending him the power to fly, the boy's bike collides with a similarly gifted sparrow. Suddenly airborne, the boy delivers his newspapers in flight while saving innocent neighbors from a menacing bully and his growling pooch. For the course of Henry's transformation, the book adopts a comic-strip format, accenting the boxed, action-filled pictures with brief, punchy text and a chorus of sound effects like "CHIRP!", "WHOOSH!" and "THONK!" In a final, satisfying coup, Henry comes to the rescue of the benevolent sparrow, vulnerable because it has temporarily relinquished its powers of flight to Henry, a development that readers will delight in discovering before the boy does. The plot unravels chiefly through Pinkney's (Max Found Two Sticks; see I Smell Honey, reviewed above) airy, motion-filled art, expertly rendered in scratchboard, transparent dyes and gouaches in creamy colors never before seen in a comic book. Clever quips and asides add humor and playful melodrama. Pinkney clearly had a blast creating this soaring story, and his high spirits are transferable to the reader ZAP! Ages 4-9. (Apr.) Copyright 1998 Publishers Weekly Reviews

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School Library Journal Reviews 1997 April
Fretting over headlines in the newspapers he's delivering, Henry almost runs over a sparrow on the sidewalk. There's a flash of light, and suddenly, like his comic-strip hero Falconman, the boy is swooping through the skies fighting evil or, at least, collaring a scary dog, rescuing a cat from a bully's clutches, and repeatedly snatching the temporarily flightless sparrow out of danger in the nick of time. Like newspaper comics, Pinkney's full-color scratchboard scenes are done in page-sized panels, with a minimum of text but maximum action, dramatized by swirling lines, wide gestures, and "THONK!" "ZAP!" sound effects. Henry's heroics will win readers over instantly; he may not save the world, but before he returns to Earth, he does make his suburban neighborhood "just a little better." That's a plausible goal for any actual or would-be superhero. Copyright 1998 School Library Journal Reviews

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