Thursday, November 15, 2012

ARC Review: Will Sparrow's Road by Karen Cushman

Will Sparrow's Road
Author: Karen Cushman
Publication: Clarion Books; 1 edition (November 6, 2012)

Description: In his thirteenth year, Will Sparrow, liar and thief, becomes a runaway. On the road, he encounters a series of con artists—a pickpocket, a tooth puller, a pig trainer, a conjurer—and learns that others are more adept than he at lying and thieving. Then he reluctantly joins a traveling troupe of "oddities," including a dwarf and a cat-faced girl, holding himself apart from the "monsters" and resolving to be on guard against further deceptions. At last Will is forced to understand that appearances are misleading and that  he has been his own worst deceiver. The rowdy world of market fairs in Elizabethan England is the colorful backdrop for Newbery medalist Cushman's new comic masterpiece. 

My Thoughts: Will Sparrow's Road will give young readers a look at what life was like for a poor, young boy in Elizabethan England. Will's father is a drunk who sold him to an innkeeper in exchange for liquor. When Will steals a pie the innkeeper threatens to sell him to a man who will make him a chimney sweep. Will knows that this is a death sentence. So he runs away with no shoes and a blanket that smells of horse as his only possession.

Will meets a number of people along the road as he flees including a thief who steels his blanket and the baf of apples he has harvested. Finally Will falls in with a man named Tidball who travels from fair to fair with his crew of oddities and prodigies. At first he is grateful to Master Tidball and afraid of the cat-faced girl and the surly dwarf who are also part of the crew.

It takes a while for Will to learn to see the cat-faced girl who has named herself Grace Wise and the dwarf whose name is Fitz as people just like him. It takes him even longer to see that Master Tidball is not the benevolent man he first thought he was.

This story follows Will as he finds a home and family of his choosing. We also get to see Will learn to care about others. The life of a young boy on his own in Elizabethan England is hard with lots of hunger and rough treatment. We see a lot of people who are not kind but we also see quite a few people who are kind to Will too.

I liked this story and think young readers who enjoy historical fiction will like it too. 

Favorite Quote:
"Me iudice, in my opinion, life is like juggling," said Benjamin. "Things come at you - balls, clubs, knives, sorrow, loss. Either you stand there and let them hit you or you throw them back pugnis et calcibus, with all your might."
I received this ARC from the Amazon Vine program. You can buy your copy here.

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