Song of the Sparrow

Lisa Ann Sandell, Author . Scholastic $16.99 (394p) ISBN 978-0-439-91848-0

S andell (The Weight of the Sky ) invents a unique and eloquently wrought addition to Arthurian lore in 44 verses expressing the sentiments of Lady Elaine, the subject of Tennyson's “The Lady of Shalott” and other classical legends. Here, Elaine is cast as a motherless tomboy living in Arthur's encampment with her father and two brothers. Raised amidst soldiers who are like brothers to her, she knows little of what it means to be a woman until her passion is roused by handsome Lancelot. Any hope that Lancelot may some day return her love quickly dissolves with the arrival of beautiful Gwynivere, Arthur's future bride, who immediately steals Lancelot's heart. Elaine despises Gwynivere for her haughty and flirtatious manner (“A gown woven by faeries/ could not disguise her cruel nature,” Elaine declares). Gwynivere conveys equal dislike for Elaine, but the two women form a bond in the throes of danger after they are kidnapped and held hostage by invading Saxons. The poetic narrative—a mix of observations, dialogue and laments—evokes a remarkable range (and natural progression) of emotions. Elaine's coming of age encompasses moments of adolescent infatuation, jealousy, grief and sacrifice and an evolution of friendship into mature love as she ultimately relinquishes her feelings for Lancelot and pledges her heart to Tristan. Characterized as unconventional for her time, Elaine encapsulates modern feminist values, proving herself to be as intelligent, determined and loyal as her male companions. Ages 12-up. (May)

Reviewed on: 05/14/2007
Release date: 05/01/2007
Paperback - 394 pages - 978-0-439-91849-7
Hardcover - 394 pages - 978-1-4287-4659-6
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4178-2851-7
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