cover image The Greedy Sparrow: An Armenian Tale

The Greedy Sparrow: An Armenian Tale

Lucine Kasbarian, illus. by Maria Zaikina, Marshall Cavendish, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7614-5821-0

When a sparrow with a thorn in his foot receives kindnesses from strangers, he intimidates each of them into giving him something he desires. By book's end, the sparrow sings about his wheeling and dealing: "In place of a thorn, I got some bread. In place of some bread, I got a sheep. In place of a sheep, I got a bride. In place of a bride, I got a lute." But as he sits in a tree, "rock[ing] in glee, he lost his footing... leaving the sparrow as he began... with nothing but a thorn in his foot." Zaikinas's lost-wax illustrations resemble thick-lined woodcuts and adroitly portray events that might daunt modern readers, as when the bridegroom decides to slaughter the dolefully funny sheep for kebabs, or agrees to give up his bride to the sparrow—a scene in which the sparrow carries the sheep while flying is sure to draw laughs. The one-dimensional characters all give the bully what he wants for the same reason—because "it was no use arguing"—making this a story about poetic justice more than anything else. Ages 4–8. (Apr.)