Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Looking for Newbery - Sparrow Road

I'm going to be honest,  Bill and I agreed to not tell what our favorite books are until the very end of our series, but I have to make this declaration: I love, love, love Sparrow Road by Sheila O'Connor!!  As a friend said recently, I'm surprised this book isn't being more seriously talked about in regards to the Newbery award (I found it on the Anderson's Bookshop Mock Newbery list).

Sparrow Road is a story that tugged at my heartstrings from the first sentence all the way to the last.  The main character, Raine O'Rourke (great name, right?), moves far away from home when her mother takes a summer job as a cook/maid at an artists' retreat on Sparrow Road.  Raine spends a lot of time wondering why they have moved from their familiar home with her grandpa to a place called Comfort, where they know no one, and  also wonders what the relationship is between her mom and the head of the artists' retreat, Viktor.

The artists themselves make wonderful foils for Raine - so incredibly quirky and eclectic.  Each artist has a gift - Lillian writes poetry and plays the piano, Eleanor is writing a book, Josie makes gorgeous quilts and other fabric creations, and Diego constructs art from others' garbage.  Each of these individuals contribute greatly to Raine finding her inner creative self during the summer.

The fact that the house that hosts the artists' retreat used to be an orphanage plays heavily into the story line.  It becomes part of Raine as a writer and as a person, and we discover interesting tidbits about other characters in the story as well.  The orphanage part truly is intertwined throughout everyone's story in a masterful way by O'Connor.

The language in the story is gorgeous as well.  I'm just listing a few examples:

"This is going to take some brave from both of us" -- Raine's mom talking about their move to Sparrow Road.

"Diego was right.  Sparrow Road wasn't really silent.  It was filled with a background hum most people didn't slow down enough to hear.  A steady insect buzz, birdsong, the rustle of leaf brushing against leaf.  I could even hear the wind whistle through the weeds." -- Raine commenting on her first day of silence, something enforced for the artists at Sparrow Road to get in touch with their creativity.

"Just tell yourself you're going for a walk.  Forget you're up on stage.  Disappear while the words do all the work.  Come on back when the audience starts clapping." -- advice Raine gets when she gets stage fright about sharing her story with others.

There's another integral part of the story that I've deliberately left out because it's too important for you to hear it from me.  You really need to read about it and see how it develops on your own.

In case there were any doubts in your mind, I ADORE Sparrow Road!!!!!!!!!


  1. While I was intrigued by this one, it felt a little too nostalgic and adult for me to be sure my students would love it. I did like the cover!

  2. Hi, Karen and Bill,
    My name is Jestina and I am a Senior Publicist at Pasta Queen Public Relations. I would love to get in touch with you to invite you to be part of Litworld's World Read Aloud Day taking place on March 7th, 2012. Please feel free to send me an email at
    Looking forward to hearing from you and hope you have a great rest of your day.