Erin Reilly-Sanders's Reviews > Sparrow Girl

Sparrow Girl by Sara Pennypacker
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Nov 25, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: foreign, fiction, picturebook, gender
Read in November, 2011

I'm rather glad that this is a true story, as it is too sad to make up. While Sparrow Girl and the true events that inspired Sparrow Girl are rather grim, the story is possibly too optimistic. I had picked this one up because it was supposed to have a feminist message, which it does although Ming-Li's "talent" is the rather traditional female emotion/sympathy/feeling. While I like the style of the illustrations, I find it vaguely disturbing that, for a Chinese story, the illustrator is Japanese. The townspeople drawn look tired, rough, and grim perhaps to let Ming-Li and her brother stand out but it doesn't seem to be a very flattering portrayal. I also thought that the pictures were a little dark for a story about dead birds and would have liked something a little brighter to help keep it light. While the birds are cute, they also seem a little cardboard and are maybe too sympathetic. I think the writing is nice, but it's a little long for really young children. However this book could work well in school lessons about China, famine, totalitarian leaders, farming, individuality, and ecosystems, assuming you are comfortable with the portrayal of Chinese people.
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