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January's Sparrow Hardcover – October 29, 2009


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 and up
  • Grade Level: 3 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 760L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel; First Edition edition (October 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399250778
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399250774
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 10.1 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #148,828 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 4–6—Fleshing out historical events with invented but credible details, Polacco retraces the 1840s flight of the Crosswhite family from slavery to freedom and the dramatic standoff between the residents (black and white both) of the Michigan town where they settled and a band of "paddy rollers" sent to fetch the fugitives back to Kentucky. In lightly idiomatic language ("'Hark now,' their daddy whispered. 'We is gonna cross water tonight!'"), the author relates most of the tale from the point of view of Sadie, the youngest Crosswhite, and threads the narrative with a typical depiction of strong family bonds—expanded here to include the loyalty displayed by a crowd of townfolk who not only held off the paddy rollers until the Crosswhites could escape to Canada, but later paid hefty fines for defying fugitive slave laws. The illustrations, which include scenes of a bloody whipping and a heavily scarred back, have an urgent, unsettled look that fully captures the sharply felt danger and terror of Sadie's experiences. Particularly telling is the contrast between the open, mobile, well-lit faces of the Crosswhites and the shadowed, menacing miens of their pursuers. An iffy claim near the end that Lincoln "gave all slaves their freedom" aside, this moving account effectively highlights a significant instance of nonviolent community resistance to injustice.—John Peters, New York Public Library END

Review

"Rooted in history, this is a masterly narrative that horrifies, moves and informs." --Kirkus

"[T]his moving account effectively highlights a significant instance of nonviolent community resistance to injustice." --School Library Journal

"Polacco at her best...undeniably vivid." --Horn Book

More About the Author

Born Patricia Ann Barber in Lansing, Michigan, to parents of Russian and Ukrainian descent on one side and Irish on the other, Patricia Polacco grew up in both California and Michigan. Her school year was spent in Oakland, California, and summers in her beloved Michigan. She describes her family members as marvelous storytellers. "My fondest memories are of sitting around a stove or open fire, eating apples and popping corn while listening to the old ones tell glorious stories about their homeland and the past. We are tenacious traditionalists and sentimentalists.... With each retelling our stories gain a little more Umph!"Studying in the United States and Australia, Patricia Polacco has earned an M.F.A. and a Ph. D. in art history, specializing in Russian and Greek painting, and iconographic history. She is a museum consultant on the restoration of icons. As a participant in many citizen exchange programs for writers and illustrators, Patricia Polacco has traveled extensively in Russia as well as other former Soviet republics. She continues to support programs that encourage Russo-American friendships and understanding. She is also deeply involved in inner-city projects here in the U.S. that promote the peaceful resolution of conflict and encourage art and literacy programs.The mother of a grown son and a daughter, Patricia Polacco currently resides in Michigan, where she has a glorious old farm that was built during the time of Lincoln.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 15 customer reviews
The illustrations are perfect.
Portianay
This is a heart wrenching story of slavery and bravery.
Margretta J. Wilson
I cry and smile each time I read it.
Deborah O'Hin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Charming Insanity on December 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I teach middle school kids and I love them. They think they know so much and yet are open to learning more. This book touched them like no other book ever has. The impact was visible. I am serious. It was profound for white students in the North to "get" the fact that slavery had an impact here, too. They felt so isolated from this issue before this book. Now, when I read my students' writing, I see their attempts at realistic references to slavery, and to understanding the world from the point of view of someone else - this is a pretty incredible gift Polacco has given teachers and students.

This book, along with Pink and Say, are perfect for middle school kids. They give good, true information in a format that is non-threatening. The kids are appropriately shocked and outraged, but they are allowed to digest it at their own pace and they have Patricia's gentle and beautiful artwork to help them understand.

This book should win the Newbery and Caldecott Awards.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Paula A. Day on December 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Patricia Polacco has done it again! Her stories are an inspiration! This book reveals a very serious subject in a way that young children can understand and respond to it!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Margretta J. Wilson on December 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Patricia Polacco has done it again. This is a heart wrenching story of slavery and bravery. Very well written and illustrated as with all of her books.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Portianay VINE VOICE on December 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Every elementary-aged child needs this book in his ore her personal library, and every public library should have this book in its collection. Besides a story you cannot put down, the themes included of what absolute power does to a person, what fear does, and how heroism can be forged in the most dire circumstances, are inspiring. The illustrations are perfect.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on January 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Patricia Polacco's JANUARY'S SPARROW is a pick for grades 3-5, telling of the Crosswhites, who flee the Kentucky plantation they slave on leaving everything behind. Their slow journey to Michigan seems to lead to freedom - but slave catchers still threaten their lives. How the family and a small town face these slave catchers and stand up for themselves makes for and absorbing, riveting story of nearly 100 pages paired with fine color drawings throughout.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By D. Moe on December 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Patricia is an amazing author who tells it like it is or was. She makes the pages come alive by connecting to the readers lives and surroundings. January Sparrow is just another one of her amazing picture books that share about the struggles African Americans lived through and should not have had to. I dare you to read it without a tissue near by. I have yet to read one of her books without a tissue box on my lap.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By K. Cooke on July 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I teach 4th and 5th grade and I use this book all the time in my class. The pictures and story from the beginning rope the kids in. I would say that 3rd grade would be as low as you could possibly go with this book (if that, due to some graphic pictures), but I'd use it all the way through high school. If you are interested at all in teaching about social justice, this book is a must. This is my new favorite book for my teacher library. Yes, #1.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Another Patricia Polacco heartwarming story from history. This is a beautifully written and illustrated version of what runaway slaves may have faced, and the fears, sorrows, and joys they experienced together to find freedom.
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