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January's Sparrow Hardcover – October 29, 2009

4.8 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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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
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The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 760L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Philomel Books; First Edition edition (October 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399250778
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399250774
  • Product Dimensions: 10.3 x 0.6 x 11.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #148,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Any Patricia Polacco book is wonderful. I read many of her books to my 5th and 6th grade students and they would ask me to read them again. Her books are often based on her family history. A favorite was The Butterfly.
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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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Format: Hardcover
This is one of Polacco's most powerful tales. Filled with drama, emotion, fear, suspense, elation, disgust, this story of slavery can't help but bring a tear and a quavering voice when reading aloud. Equally as dramatic are the illustrations that fully capture the prose of the story. Young people of all races can't help but be disturbed at the history of slavery via a personal--though fictional--account of the Crosswhite slave family. Yes, this is historical, but also realistic, fiction of the treatment of slaves and their desire and attempts for freedom. The story also dramatically emphasizes the Underground Railroad's benefactors and the effect of the Fugitive Slave Law and integration. As a picture book this is a very long read: With elaboration (necessary), it took me 70 minutes to complete--thus, the possible need to read in sections. The tale has both a very surprising and happy ending.

Interest Level: Grade 3.5/4 & Up; reading level 4.4--Historical Fiction (Slavery)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This remarkable author never disappoints. She's meticulous in her research and every creation is precious and meaningful. She has become a favorite author of the children in my life and the child in me.
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