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Comment: Former library copy. Expect typical stickers and markings. Cover is reinforced with mylar. Worn edges and cover with creases. Otherwise item is in good condition.
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Sparrow Girl Hardcover – February 17, 2009


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Stick and Stone
Words do matter as Stick and Stone demonstrate in warm, rhyming text even the youngest reader will understand. See more featured books. Read more about the author Beth Ferry and the illustrator Tom Lichtenheld.
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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 4—In 1958, in a stunning demonstration of unintended consequences, Mao Tse-tung decimated the sparrow population of China by compelling every able-bodied citizen to set off firecrackers, clang gongs, beat on drums, etc., over a three-day period. The frightened birds took wing until they dropped dead of exhaustion. Though this kept the sparrows from eating the wheat crop, it also prevented them from controlling the locust population, resulting in a famine. Pennypacker has imagined the thoughts and actions of a little girl who loves the sparrows and manages to rescue a few of them, keeping them safe in a barn and feeding them secretly in the months that follow. When the crops in her village are threatened by the insects, Ming-Li shows the farmers the birds she has tended and they release them, recognizing that the sparrows have always been their friends. While this picture book, with its murky folk-art-style illustrations, owes more to ecological concerns than historical fact, it will be useful in teaching about the potential of one person to make a difference in the world, and the potential of many humans to create disasters.—Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In 1958, Chairman Mao declared war on sparrows. He blamed them for devouring the nation’s wheat crop, and he required all citizens, armed with pots and pans and firecrackers, to take to the streets and literally scare the birds to death. The successful campaign brought on a plague of locusts and a three-year famine that resulted in the deaths of almost 40 million Chinese. The author takes these actual events as inspiration for a resonant, contemporary fable about Ming-Li, a girl who feels for the sparrows under attack, defies the leader, and rescues seven birds as they fall from the sky. Pennypacker strikes a suitably moralistic tone and tells her story with rich, descriptive detail. Tanaka matches the somber elegance of the text with opaque, folk-inspired paintings in a subdued palette. An author’s note explains the difficult facts behind the story. Opposite the grave historical account, though, is an uplifitng image: on a field of white, a small nest with seven eggs promises the hope that springs from the simple actions of one empathetic heart. Grades K-3. --Thom Barthelmess
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten - 4
  • Lexile Measure: 590L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion; First Edition edition (February 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1423111877
  • ISBN-13: 978-1423111870
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.2 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #120,968 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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See all 12 customer reviews
My grand daughter loved the book.
Marie Houck
I love the beautiful illustrations and the rich language that it is written in!
MG
This book teaches a lesson in the importance of cause and effect.
Julia King

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The Chinese were declaring war against the sparrows, claiming they were their enemies. Ming-Li's Older Brother had a basket of firecrackers to frighten them away with, but Ming-Ling was upset because she liked sparrows. Even her mother and father were excited at the prospect of having a village barn filled with grain. If the sparrows were around, they would eat it all before it could be put into storage. She was so upset and couldn't sleep. When she went in to talk to Older Brother, he simply said to her, "Our Leader's plans are always perfect. They told us at school. Now, go to sleep!" Chairman Mao was always right.

The next morning the whole village seemed to explode with noise. Everyone was trying to drive away the sparrows. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! Birds began to fall from the sky. They were literally dying from fright. Ming-li ran home to check on her own pigeon. Older Brother must have let her out, but when she went up to the roof her pet flew to her. She died in her arms and "tears filled Ming'Li's eyes." Later, whenever she saw a bird fall to the ground, she rushed to pick it up. Perhaps she could save just one. The birds were coming down in torrents. Would there be any birds left in China?

This story is based on the true story of Chairman Mao's Great Sparrow War in 1958. This program proved ecologically unsound because without the sparrows, the locust population grew and contributed to "a famine that killed between thirty and forty million Chinese" people. The story is very touching and heartbreaking. The art work superbly captures the mood of the story. This is a serious tale and would be an excellent choice for a historical or ecological class study.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Yana V. Rodgers on February 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
In 1958, Chairman Mao Tse-Tung's initiated the Great Sparrow Campaign, a massive effort to eliminate all of China's sparrows, which he blamed for eating too many grain seeds and causing hardship for China's farmers. He ordered all the peasant to bang pots and pans and to have noise parades to frighten the birds away.

The decision saddened and frightened Ming-Li, a young girl living in the country-side, who liked sparrows and wondered about the consequences of the decision and if there was another way to save the crops. Her fears proved fully grounded. Sparrows not only ate grain, they also ate locusts and worms, and the decimation of the sparrow population contributed to an enormous growth of locusts and the start of China's terrible famine. Ming-Li was too young and small to stop these major events, but her love of sparrows did lead to a powerful action that would bring hope to her village and new-found respect from her father.

Readers of all ages will appreciate Sparrow Girl for its informative account of an important event in China's Great Leap Forward and its lesson about the dangers of upsetting the environment's ecological balance. The rich illustrations make this work of historical fiction all the more memorable.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on March 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a great story that shows how one young girl can make a difference. It also shows how blind following without personal thought can lead to destruction.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Carol Poole on February 2, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book goes a long way to help children (and adults) understand the dangers of ill-advised interference in the natural world around us. It explains in ways that are very easy to understand that we cannot just strike out at any one species and expect that there will be no consequences. In this case, Chairman Mao made an irrational decision to drive away or kill all the sparrows in China because they were eating the farmers' grain. In the long run, the farmers' plight was much worse because now there was not a natural enemy to eat the locusts and other insects that ate more of the grain than the sparrows had done. "And a little child shall lead them" could be the theme for this wonderful book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Julia King on August 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Sparrow Girl is the story of how devastating human intervention can be to wildlife populations. In China, early Communist policy called for the extermination of all sparrows that might feed upon grain crops. The onslaught to the birds was highly successful and the Chinese were able to kill thousands upon thousands of birds in the country side. The following year famine occurred due to the bloom of locusts who wiped out the cereal crops. This book teaches a lesson in the importance of cause and effect. Kill all the birds and the bugs will take over....
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By Kirsten G. Cutler on March 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In this poignant fable based on historical fact, Chairman Mao instructs the Chinese people to keep sparrows from settling down anyplace for three days because he believed that the sparrows were responsible for eating all the grains in the cultivated fields. Exhausted, most of the birds died; although, a small girl named Ming-Li rescues a few sparrows from being harried to death and hides them in a barn. The next year, when the farmers in her village see their grain being destroyed by insects, the wise girl tells them this is happening because all the sparrows are gone, and she shows them the seven sparrows that she has saved. This story ends with a positive result: the farmers decide to let the sparrows repopulate. The actual consequence of Mao's edict was to enable a massive famine that resulted in more than 3o million people dying from hunger over a three year period. The paintings represent the text very well: one dramatic double spread shows golden birds falling from the sky, "They're like raindrops...The sky is raining birds". Another very moving double spread shows Ming-Li sitting on a rooftop with her older brother, a birdcage with seven sparrows sits between them. Sparrows populate the inside cover pages. An author's note explains the facts of the "Sparrow War". More context about the true event would have enhanced this book; although, information is readily available on the internet.
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