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Will Sparrow's Road by Karen Cushman
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Will Sparrow's Road

by Karen Cushman

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Will Sparrow’s Road - Cushman
audio performance by Katherine Kellgren
4 stars

Will Sparrow is an Elizabethan Huckleberry Finn. Running away from an abusive situation he finds himself on the road with itinerant, market fair charlatans and side show freaks. This is excellent historical fiction for a middle grade audience. The lively setting is a great introduction to an important historical period. There’s also plenty of material to encourage meaningful discussion. Huck has his relationship with Jim to expand his world view. Will Sparrow has the dwarf, Lancelot Fitzgeoffrey and the cat-faced girl, Grace Wyse to teach him the meaning of true friendship. And there’s Duchess, the pig who can count. What could be better?
( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
This was much closer to the early Karen Cushman books that I love! ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
This was much closer to the early Karen Cushman books that I love! ( )
  Jen.ODriscoll.Lemon | Jan 23, 2016 |
Set in anywhere England of the Elizabethan period this story is full of adventure and you keep reading hoping to see him find some kind of loving home. Nowadays we have programs, systems, and other means to keep children fed or in a home, not all are accounted for, but in these times a child was left to his own skills or mind to make it out alive. He winds up with carnival folk, after being fooled a few times by con artist, and he learns how be part of a family. I think this story brings hope to those who feel a little left out, I like the story as it is based in a realistic setting.
  josephumana | Mar 16, 2015 |
Will Sparrow's father sold him to an innkeeper in return for ale. When the innkeeper catches Will stealing a meat pie, he threatens to send Will to London to be a chimney sweep's boy. Preferring the dangers of the open road to the dangers and drudgery of cleaning chimneys, Will runs away. After a few days of running and hiding, Will falls in with the itinerant crowd of performers, artisans, and hucksters who travel from one fair to the next. It's a colorful ensemble, and though Will prides himself on being a liar and a thief, he is more than once taken in by some sly character. Eventually, he reluctantly takes a place as an errand boy for the owner of a booth featuring "prodigies and oddities," including a three-legged chicken, a mermaid in a jar, a bad-tempered dwarf, and a fur-faced girl a few years younger than Will. As Will gets to know the members of the small company, he learns to look beyond appearances and see things, and people, as they truly are. And, despite his oft-repeated claim that he cares for no one but himself, he finds that there are other people in the world for whom he cares, and who care for him.

Cushman walks a fine line with Will's character: he is indeed a bit of a liar and a thief, as well as conceited, somewhat ignorant, and occasionally naive -- but for all that, he remains likeable and sympathetic. The secondary characters are likewise complex and rounded; the reader gets the sense that each one features as the star of their own story, though some of those stories overlap onto Will's only briefly. At times, I suspected that the narrative was leading to a saccharine and unrealistic ending, but Cushman is too talented an author to fall into that trap. As for the audiobook production, it was excellent -- as in other projects, Kellgren researched the songs that are included in the text, and her performance of them was authentic to both the period and the characters. Highly recommended! ( )
  foggidawn | Jul 25, 2013 |
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Book 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.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0547739621, Hardcover)

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. 

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:45 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In 1599 England, twelve-year-old lying, thieving Will Sparrow runs away, meets many colorful characters on the road, and then reluctantly joins a traveling "oddities" exhibit, where he learns to see beyond appearances.

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