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Song of the Sparrow

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  9,797 ratings  ·  989 reviews
The year is 490 AD. Fiery 16-year-old Elaine of Ascolat, the daughter of one of King Arthur's supporters, lives with her father on Arthur's base camp, the sole girl in a militaristic world of men.

Elaine's only girl companion is the mysterious Morgan, Arthur's older sister, but Elaine cannot tell Morgan her deepest secret: She is in love with Lancelot, Arthur's second-in-c
Hardcover, 394 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by Scholastic Press
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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
May 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: library-borrowed
There she weaves by night and day
A magic web with colours gay.
She has heard a whisper say,
A curse is on her if she stay
To look down to Camelot.
She knows not what the curse may be,
And so she weaveth steadily,
And little other care hath she,
The Lady of Shalott.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson The Lady of Shalott (1832)

I didn't get hooked into Arthurian legends by reading, it was actually the 1995 feature length film First Knight and the performances of Sean Connery, Julia Ormond, and Richard Ger
Dec 30, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
I was wondering how Sandell would write a nearly four hundred page book about a woman who died because Lancelot didn't return the love she had for him. Needless to say much was changed from the original Arthurian legend, giving the main character a much happier ending. Some of the other characters and more well known events of the legend were changed to fit the YA category.

Overall, this was an okay read, although I will complain again about the format. It is suppose to be written in verse but o
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
Jan 09, 2012 rated it liked 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
Jun 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
-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!!!!!!!
While it was not perfect by any means, I liked this in-verse retelling (retwisting, really) of the Lady of Shalott legend, from Arthurian lore.

The best part was definitely the verse itself; I really liked a lot of the language and imagery. And I liked Elaine herself, her hopes, loneliness, and emotional journey.

I don't really know what else to praise, because there was nothing earth-shatteringly amazing, but it was good. nice. I did like it.

But. I cannot profess to being a Camelot fanatic, bu
Emily Cassady
Oct 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
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 rated it really liked it
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
Caught Between Pages
Jun 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
What can I say? I love this book.

Are the characters' behaviors accurate depictions of how the historic/mythological figures they represent would behave? Probably not (especially the ladies)... but I love it. Is the conflict that drives the plot resolved very quickly and without much effort? Sure... but I love it. Is the setting beautiful and whimsical and just a little magical? You bet your ass it is, and I love it.

My love for this book is one part nostalgia for the story that got me into Arthu
Feb 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Lena Morrison
Feb 05, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jennifer Wardrip
May 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 02, 2019 rated it liked it
This fast-paced novel-in-verse has been sitting on my TBR shelf for ages! While lyrically poetic and historically-based, I found myself bogged down in the novel’s numerous cliches and juvenile language. The heroine is fabulous and brave and the knights are handsome and dashing, but overall the story felt somewhat rushed and overdone. I love that the author took Elaine’s story and removed the distress from the damsel, however, she also completely rewrote the story to make it more like a harlequin ...more
Jan 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
queen of narnia
Words simply cannot express how much I enjoyed this book. Not only was it beautiful and lush, but the story was so incredible, the characters so real, that I don’t doubt I will continue to read this until I die. It wasn’t perfect of course- no book is. But oh my gosh, it was terrific. I seriously think I’m into poetry, I plan to read more in the future. Do you have any recs? I’d love to know. Also, this book made me cry it was so beautifully done. Talk about a swoon-worthy romance and a strong f ...more
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, historical, 2011, verse
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 el
Jun 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 17, 2016 rated it liked it
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
Alissa J. Zavalianos
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-favorites
So this was beautiful! Not only was the cover captivating from the onset, but the poetical layout was charming and lyrical. And unlike some poetry which can feel stilted and jilting, this narrative flowed as smooth as molasses.

This was the first time I had ever read a contemporary epic poem, of sorts. The setting was beautifully described, the characters even more so, and the overall plot was enthralling.

I love stories about King Arthur and his court, about Medieval fights and culture, and abo
I would have given it 5 stars except I cannot get on board with the ending
(view spoiler)
Jun 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
I was assigned to read this book as part of the YA Best Overlooked Book Battle 2011, hosted by Alyssa over at The Shady Glade. At first I wasn't sure what to think; I'm just starting to get into historical fiction, and this didn't sound like something I'd ache to pick up on my own. But by giving it a chance, I was pleasantly surprised.

Song of the Sparrow follows Elaine, the only girl in an army camp full of men. She's grown up there, away from the limitations that were enforced upon women at tha
Sep 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
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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

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