Winter 2012 Kids Next List
“Once again Newbery medalist Cushman takes us back to Elizabethan England, this time to 1599, when Will Sparrow has been traded by his father to an innkeeper in exchange for ale. After stealing some food from the innkeeper, Will fears that he will be sold again, so he runs away. Life on the run is filled with adventure, danger, and hunger. Will becomes attached to an Elizabethan fair troupe with an unusual cast, including a hairy girl, a juggler, and a pig. An intriguing story for middle readers who will find this tale a fun medieval romp.”
— Shirley Mullin, Kids Ink, Indianapolis, IN
In his thirteenth year, Will Sparrow, liar and thief, becomes a runaway. On the road, he encounters a series of con artists—a pickpocket, a tooth puller, a pig trainer, a conjurer—and learns that others are more adept than he at lying and thieving. Then he reluctantly joins a traveling troupe of "oddities," including a dwarf and a cat-faced girl, holding himself apart from the "monsters" and resolving to be on guard against further deceptions. At last Will is forced to understand that appearances are misleading and that he has been his own worst deceiver. The rowdy world of market fairs in Elizabethan England is the colorful backdrop for Newbery medalist Cushman's new comic masterpiece.
About the Author
Karen Cushman's acclaimed historical novels include Catherine, Called Birdy, a Newbery Honor winner, and The Midwife's Apprentice, which received the Newbery Medal. She lives on Vashon Island in Washington State. Visit her online at karencushman.com and on Twitter @cushmanbooks.
"A compelling coming-of-age road trip."
"Set in Elizabethan England, the novel is built upon Cushman's thorough research and solid understanding of the period."
"[Cushman] manages the tricky balance of keeping her characters engaging and understandable for her audience while still making them very much of their time."
"Fascinating, sometimes seemingly preposterous, details are solidly corroborated in the informative author's note that reflects Cushman's extensive research."
—School Library Journal
"Offering action, humor, and heart in equal doses, Cushman's story is, at its core, about creating and claiming a family of one's own."
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Lively and amusing . . . . [Cushman's] details have the surprising aptness of an Elizabeth Enright story—or, to step outside children's books, a Raymond Chandler novel."
—The New York Times Book Review
“Karen Cushman is a master of portraying personal transformation. . . . A warmhearted portrait of a boy coming to terms with himself and the world.”
—Historical Novels Society
"As usual, Cushman is adept at bringing the past to vivid life, with evocative details from daily Elizabethan life and authentic, often humorous dialogue."