From School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Will Sparrow hates his life. First his father sold him off for some beer and then the innkeeper threatens to sell him into the short, wretched life of chimney sweeping. Will, practiced thief and liar, runs away, desperate to find a better life. What he finds on the road are other consummate liars, charlatans, and the "freak" folk of the fair circuit. At first the boy is frightened of the cat-girl and the angry little person who are part of the troupe he joins. Happy to have food every day, though, Will stays and, as time passes, he learns a great deal about the people around him. Most importantly, he eventually realizes that a person's appearance has nothing to do with their internal goodness. Will has finally found a new and wonderful family with the very people he originally feared. Historical fiction fans will find a wealth of colorful descriptions and characters in Cushman's novel (Clarion, 2012) set in Elizabethan England. Katherine Kellgren does a wonderful job of vocalizing Will's journey. The boy's desperation, inquisitiveness, and emotional evolution are all expertly narrated, giving the story the verve and vivacity that those traveling the Elizabethan markets would have experienced. Libraries looking to expand their historical fiction audiobook collections should consider this title.-Jessica Miller, West Springfield Public Library, MAα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
--This text refers to the
Meet young Will Sparrow, whose father has sold him to an innkeeper for a daily supply of ale. Introduced as “a liar and a thief,” Will flees from the inn and takes to the road, where he steals food, occasionally earns a coin, and meets a variety of colorful people who travel from fair to fair. While working for a malicious man who charges people to visit his collection of oddities and wonders (a unicorn skull, a mermaid in a jar, a live monster), Will befriends Grace, a girl billed as a monster because of the silky hair on her face, and her protector, a dwarfish “little man” with a fierce demeanor. Set in Elizabethan England, the novel is built upon Cushman’s thorough research and solid understanding of the period. An author’s note is appended. Though the story loses steam in the end, many readers will find Will’s journey compelling along the way, as he learns that things (and people) are not always what they seem. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Cushman’s historical novels are always in demand, especially among teachers, who find them a popular teaching tool. Grades 5-7. --Carolyn Phelan