cover image Will Sparrow’s Road

Will Sparrow’s Road

Karen Cushman. Clarion, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-547-73962-5

Impudent, headstrong, and “a liar and a thief,” 12-year-old Will Sparrow is also a hero to remember in this rousing story from Newbery Medalist Cushman (The Midwife’s Apprentice), set in Elizabethan England. Abandoned by his mother and sold by his alcoholic father to an abusive innkeeper in exchange for unlimited ale, Will soon winds up on the dangerous open road. Will tries to outsmart a stellar cast of thieves, tricksters, and con artists—underestimating all of them and getting taken advantage of repeatedly. He eventually finds a place on the circuit of fairs with Master Tidball and his caravan of “oddities and prodigies,” which includes “the world’s smartest pig” and a whiskered woman billed as half-cat (“It seemed to Will that Master Tidball made a good living for someone who did nothing but watch others work. Will himself could do that, he thought”). 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. Readers will be ready to follow Will anywhere from the very first page. Ages 10–14. Agent: Elizabeth Harding, Curtis Brown. (Nov.)