The Truth About Sparrows

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
May/June 2006

By Marian Hale, Reviewed by Julia Worcester

The Truth About Sparrows book cover

The Truth About Sparrows, by Marian Hale;
Henry Holt and Company: New York,
2oo4; $16.95

The truth about sparrows takes you right back into the Great Depression. From the minute you open the book, all of Sadie Wynn’s burdens will be yours. From the very beginning: having to give up a home, the only home you’ve known all your life. Sadie has to deal with it all. The Wynns have to leave their wonderful farm in Missouri to go to Texas. On the way, they meet a girl, Dollie, and her family Dollie becomes Sadie’s friend throughout the story But to be true to Dollie, Sadie will have to let go of someone from the past: Wilma.

Wilma is Sadie’s best friend back in Missouri. As you read the book, you discover what Sadie discovers: that even if you trust your friends so much, they could still dump you. I’ve had some experiences like that, including when a friend and I had too many play dates and always got annoyed at each other. Now we’re friends again. But even though Wilma promises to, she never writes to Sadie. Sadie sends her three letters and doesn’t hear back. Sadie thinks at one point, “Wilma could be anywhere. But mostly, she was gone.”

In my favorite part of the story it’s Halloween night and Sadie and some friends tell ghost stories. The book really comes alive, like a personal experience. I’ve spent time making up funny stories with friends and it sure is a lot of fun. Sadie tells a story about Wilma’s brother who heard and even felt a ghost. I enjoyed that scene a lot.

I guess you’re wondering why this book has its name. One day, a man comes by a tent the Wynns are living in. He asks if they’ll give him something to eat, and Sadie’s mama obliges. The next day, Sadie is mad and looks for a place to be alone. She startles a sparrow who flies to another perch. Then Sadie is startled by a movement in a cardboard box. She moves closer and sees that it’s the man her mother fed the day before. From then on she calls him Mr. Sparrow. I studied sparrows in first grade. They’re the sweetest, most ordinary birds. Perhaps that sweetness and ordinariness is the truth about sparrows, and the truth about the man whose life is so hard he lives in a box.

There is a lot of talk about poverty in the book. Sadie overhears a conversation between a boy and his dad that really stayed with me. The dad describes ” . . . kids sleeping in the cold under Hoover blankets and scouring the dumps for food.” “What’s a Hoover blanket, Papa?” “A newspaper, son. Just a newspaper.” This book taught me a lot of history Hoover was a man who was President during part of the Depression.

This is what I saw when I traveled to India. Poverty. India is filled with it. “Too many people and not enough jobs,” is another line from the book. Whenever you stop at a red light in Mumbai, kids will come to your car, trying to sell you something. Elderly men will ask you for money The Depression did that to people, too.

This story will make you brood even after the last page is read. It has something to offer to everybody History, friendship, and the real preciousness of life. I recommend this book to everybody who reads this review!

The Truth About Sparrows Julia Worcester

Julia Worcester,10
Bronx, New York

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