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Song of the Sparrow

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  8,502 Ratings  ·  873 Reviews
This eloquent and gripping addition to the Camelot canon -- written in beautiful verse -- has received glowing, starred reviews and early awards buzz!

Since the days of King Arthur, there have been poems and paintings created in her name. She is Elaine of Ascolat, the Lady of Shalott, and now there is a book all her own. The year is 490 A.D. and 16-year-old Elaine has a tem
Paperback, 383 pages
Published August 1st 2008 by Scholastic Paperbacks (first published May 1st 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Shannon (Giraffe Days)
I have never had any interest in the Arthurian Legend, and have avoided the many books about it since reading The Sword in the Stone in grade 6 (and winning the school library's book jacket competition with a new cover for it), and struggling through the first fifty pages of The Mists of Avalon. There was even a course at uni that was solely about the legend of King Arthur - which I ran a mile to avoid. I can't really explain what I don't like about the myth, except to say that I don't get the a ...more
Dec 30, 2010 Annalisa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Annalisa by: Annie
I've decided I just don't like modern books in verse. There is no cadence to them. Take for instance this stance:

The noise brings me back,
the fearsome noise of swords
striking swords,
a metallic clanging that rings in
my ears, echoing and echoing
the fearsome
din of men
screaming and crying as they
meet the sharp ends of blades.

Why is the fourth line broken after in? There is no rhythm in that. And why is the second to the last line not broken before as they? I'd personally separate echoing and echoin
Originally reviewed here.

So this is a book I've spent a lot of time talking about. Chances are, if you've hung around these parts, you've heard me push it. But I actually read it for the first time way back in the olden days before the blog was, well, what it is now. I read it shortly after it was first published, back in 2007, when I was writing monthly posts, mere collections of mini-reviews. So SONG OF THE SPARROW got shortchanged. The fun thing is lots of friends have read (and reviewed) it
I read Song of the Sparrow last year, but it’s only now that I’m posting my rating and review because, in truth, I was nervous.

I have good friends who all seemed to fall into passionate, swoony love with Lisa Ann Sandell’s verse interpretation of the Lady of Shallott. And I.. did not. So I held off. Did I really want to be the lone lukewarm drop in the bucket of adoration? And maybe it was me. Maybe I was just a philistine with no literary taste. While reviewers and critics alike praise this bo
Liz Janet
-Elaine of Ascolat, better known as The Lady of Shalott, is the main character in this new telling of Arthurian legend.
-It is told in prose.
-It is advertised as more of a romance than anything else, but it is much more than that, the story of a girl becoming a woman, a soldier, and a friend.
-Not very accurate on the Gwynivere canon.
-Or the original canon, but most works don't follow it, so there is that.
-Cool characters that have HONOURRRRRRRR!!!!!!!
4.5 and a fave read of the year :)

A re-telling of the Lady of Shallott in verse (I am the fan. of the verse.)

Featuring Camelot, Lancelot, Arthur and Tristan (from Tristan and Isolde)
sounds kinda cool, yeah?

Started slow for me, but then suddenly I couldn't put it down. And I stayed up sneakily until 2am just having the best time reading it.

Loved it, a re-read for sure.
Lyrical and atmospheric.
Even felt a little teary towards the end... which was weird, to suddenly feel that prickle of tears but al
Feb 24, 2011 Holly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Holly by: Angie
Red-headed Elaine of Ascolat has been the sole girl at Arthur’s war camp for as long as she can remember. Although she misses her mother and dislikes all the washing and mending Elaine wouldn’t trade living with her father and brothers and being part of the military for a quieter life. There, as a healer, her job matters. She may not have fine clothes but she knows how to take care of herself and more importantly how to find and prescribe the herbs that can save the wounded. Her life would be co ...more
Emily Cassady
Oct 30, 2007 Emily Cassady rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: YA readers, those interested in Arthur and the Knights
This prose-style novel ends with the disclaimer that the author has completely used artistic license based on semi-fact. I love that the author spun a fanciful and romantic tale and ended it with responsible tone and further research notes.
Sandell, before beginning her tale, includes the poem by Tennyson entitled “The Lady of Shalott”. This poem sets the tone for the main character who Sandell speculates, is actually the true Lady.
She then spins her tale of Arthur and the Round Table. Of Gwyni
Feb 02, 2009 Valerie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Valerie by: Ash
I loved this book. I was a bit worried about the poem structure and I was also worried because it was about Lady Elaine. But I really could admire Elaine and her courage. And I could follow the book just fine. I really liked that the men were very chilvaric and honorable. The few women that were in the story were not pathetic and swooning all the time. They actually played a big part in Arthur's success. Elaine helped in a realistic way during that period in time. After I finished reading it I w ...more
Originally posted here.

Song of the Sparrow is based on Alfred Lord Tennyson's The Lady of Shalott, an Arthurian poem about Elaine of Ascolat. I've never read a novel in verse before and I thought it would be a good idea to start with this one because I like the premise. I don't read a lot of Arthurian tales either although I remember reading Le Morte d'Arthur for English back in high school and I love Elizabeth E. Wein's books. When I saw an inexpensive used copy from Julie's Sari-Sari Store, I
Jacqueline (Fall In Love With The Sound of Words)
My Arthurian knowledge is very limited. I really only know what I have picked up in snippets from other books or television; which honestly wasn’t very much. I had no idea that Elaine had even existed, and I only knew of Tristan from that movie with Heath Ledger; which I hadn’t watched :D.
Okay so long story short, this was a fantastic first introduction for me. The pace was fast and easy, it flowed really well; and despite my worry that I wouldn’t connect with the characters because of the forma
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Holly for

Sixteen-year-old Elaine of Ascolat is amazingly beautiful with her long red hair and her soft natural face. Living in an army camp full of all guys, Elaine figures the handsome Lancelot to be her true love. Until her troubles and daydreams get the best of her, when even prettier Gwynivere arrives at the camp and is immediatley drawn to Lancelot - even though she is engaged to Arthur.

Gwynivere's mean remarks but beautiful outer self makes Elaine jealous enou
Jan 06, 2009 Cara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cara by: Ash
Love it. At first I was intimidated by it since it was in poem form, but I shouldn't have worried. It is a great addition to the great Athurian legends. Elaine is given a lot more strengh, as are all the women in this book. Elaine is practically the only woman in the camp of soldiers. You see the same faces in these book like Arthur (before he is the King), Lancelot, Tristan and others. Fast read and make sure to read the author's note at the end of the book. Again I can't say enough good things ...more
Jul 23, 2011 Tina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, historical, verse, ya
Original post at One More Page

This year is the year of novels in verse for me, and I have been trying to keep one on my TBR in case of a need for a quick read. Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell is one of those books that hovered by my radar but I never really got because...well I'm not sure anymore. But anyway, when I saw a copy of this for swap in one of our Goodreads meet-ups, I got it immediately (with cackles of delight because I got it first -- then again I'm not sure if anyone else
Jun 10, 2009 Adele rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am usually adverse to verse but having read two amazing verse novels this week, I am about to pull an about face. Song of the Sparrow was an absolute joy to read - lyrical, poetic, inspiring and wrenching. Drawing upon the stories of Arthur, Lancelot and Merlin, Sandell has strongly integrated the inspiration for Tennyson's poem, the Lady of Shalott, into the mix. Elaine (the "Lady" in question) has been raised in the war camps of 5th century Britain, by her widowed father amongst battle weary ...more
Lena Morrison
Feb 05, 2014 Lena Morrison rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Any King Arthur fan
I do my reviews in the form of a letter, which is why they are written like this.

Dear Lisa Ann Sandell,

The actual rating for this book is a 3.5. I just preferred giving it a three. :) I more than just liked it, but I didn't "really" like it. It's in between.
When I first picked it up, I was twelve or eleven. I remember being bored to death in the beginning, but after a while I got really into it. I loved it at that time. I cried a lot in several parts.
I think the lower rating is due to a chan
This ended up not really being my thing, and I mostly skimmed it. It's laid out like poetry, but I'm not sure it's really written as poetry. I'm not the type of person that dismisses free verse, or anything like that, but it didn't flow or condense the images in the way that poetry typically does -- it feels like staccato prose, instead. A quick example:

He takes a deep breath.
And I loved being your hero.
But that day, that day when you
offered yourself to me, I was shocked, and I was angry with th
Jan 09, 2012 Jo marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jo by: Reynje
You see?

This is the joy of Goodreads and writing honest reviews.

They don't always have to be positive because if it wasn't for Miss Rey saying that she wasn't too keen on novels written in verse I would never have seen this and thought "Hey! I might like this one because I am keen on novels written in verse."

This is why it's good to have diversity in our reviews.

In the immortal words of Hot Chocolate: I believe in miracles, you sexy thing. Everyone's a winner, baby!
This was a wonderful book. My sister bought it at a book fair, and at first I was wary, because it was poetry. Finally, I read it, and I absolutely loved it. It is a beautiful, amazing book.
Laura W
This is such a lovely, sweet book written in verse. It hardly feels like verse though because it reads so smoothly. You can gather and infer so much from the way the lines are formatted! For that reason, I really liked it and would definitely reread it! Well, that and other reasons!

For one thing, I love how the sparrow is incorporated into Elaine's journey. That's what this book is really about: Elaine's journey to find herself and where she belongs in the world. She has an idea at the beginning
Nov 12, 2008 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'll admit it first thing: I was a King Arthur groupie. Summers were spent at Renaissance festivals, and one year my best friend and I even made medieval dresses for ourselves - and it wasn't even close to Halloween. So coming into this lovely, lovely book which retells the story of Elaine, the Lady of Shalott, I was more than excited. Then I opened the book and saw it was all in verse and I sort of did a little dance around the house. Okay, so it was a big happy dance.

In this revised version o
Jul 17, 2016 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I ran into a sweet little twelve year old at a yard sale, and because it's my favorite thing to ask kids, I asked what her favorite book was. I was happy to find that she was a book lover, and she let me give her a whole list of books she should read this summer. Anyway, at the end of the conversation, she said she wanted to loan me this book to read, and I'm always going to take a book recommendation from a kid who takes the time to talk books with me, so I read it.

I have to admit the only thin
Nov 26, 2008 Melissa rated it it was amazing
Sandell brings to life the fictional story of The Lady of Shallot [Elaine] through history and the legends of King Arthur and his knights.
When I first picked up this book I thought "Oh, no! It's a 380 page poem!" But as I read it, I found it was merely written like a poem, not in rhyming words or anything so don't let that scare you.
It was a bit slow at first, but it picked up quickly. The book is very poetic and detailed. Surprisingly it had a bit of history and the characters were more down to
Mar 13, 2008 Heather rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen
I loved this book because I love King Arthur tales but the author did totally change the tale of Elaine of Ascolat, she gave her a happy ending and from what I know of the story of Elaine she did not have a happy ending, she actually died from her unrequited love of Lancelot, and I think she took a lot of liberties with the three women, Elaine, Morgan and Gwynivere, giving them all very modern feminist values, but I am not very familiar with all the tales so maybe that was really how they are po ...more
Nov 14, 2012 Tristan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book so much! I thought Elaine was an amazing character. I think that the best part about this book was when Elaine found out that Arthur and Gwynivere were going to get married. I hated how mean Gwynivere was. I felt bad for Elaine because the only true family she had was her father, and her two brothers. My favorite characters were Tristan (of course!), Elaine, and Morgan. I highly recommend this book to anybody who wants to read a very interesting book that takes place during th ...more
Mar 29, 2017 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Elizabeth by: Sasha
Wow this was absolutely phenomenal! Beautifully written (in verse!!), a wonderful main character, and so atmospheric. I love all things arthurian legend and this did not disappoint, not at all.
I read this for my "Read Outside Your Comfort Zone" Challenge.

Why is it outside my comfort zone? I've never been a big fan of novels in verse, but I don't think I've given enough of them a try...hence why I'm reading some for this challenge!

Did it win me over? Why or why not? Yes, it definitely did. I actually found myself really enjoying Song of the Sparrow. The writing is so atmospheric, and even the fact that it's written in verse works quite well given the medieval setting, especially with t
Kataryna Hermans
An interesting story of King Arthur in verse.
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I was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware, where I'm told that I was forever buried in books. I began scribbling my own short stories in a spiral bound notebook when I was six. Books and writing were--and still are--a haven for me, and I count myself so lucky that I have a chance to share my stories with others. I currently live and work in New York City where, when I'm not writing, I'm riding ...more
More about Lisa Ann Sandell...

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“It should begin with friendship, I think. Suddenly I cannot look at him.
It should begin with friendship and truly knowing who a person is, knowing his flaws and hopes and strengths and fears, knowing all of it. And admiring and caring for- loving the person because of all of those things...
I know that now.”
“But, I believe," I continue, "I know what true love is - or what it should be."

"What should it be?" Tristan asks, his voice soft now.

"It should be a friendship and truly knowing who a person is, knowing his flaws and hopes and strengths and fears, knowing all of it. And admiring and caring for - loving the person because of those things.”
More quotes…