Monday, March 21, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday -- Sparrow Road

As I've mentioned before, quiet books are often overlooked.  SPARROW ROAD by Sheila O'Connor (Coming from Putnam May 12, 2011, for ages 8 to 12) is one quiet book you'll want to add to your TBR list because it's a rich and rewarding read.

Raine is 12 the summer that Mama abruptly decides to take a job as cook and housekeeper for an artist colony out in the country called Sparrow Road.  She insists that Raine spend the summer at the colony with her instead of staying in Milwaukee with Grandpa Mac.  But at the same time, Mama won't let her go anywhere, especially into the town of Comfort.  What is Mama hiding?  There are secrets at Sparrow Road, and one of them involves Raine's own past.

The colony is a sprawling estate with a meadow, a pond, artist sheds, and a dilapidated mansion that was once an orphanage. The dusty attic is still filled with narrow metal beds.  City-girl Raine gradually gets used to the quiet of the country and also gets to know the four artists-in-residence: stern Eleanor, energetic Josie, friendly Diego and timid old Lillian, who may have a connection to the old orphanage.  There is no TV at Sparrow Road, so Raine is bored until Josie convinces her to work on her own form of art and write a story about the orphans who once lived here.

Raine is a wonderful character, well-rounded, thoughtful and always real. This is a rare book in which the main character is a child but all the secondary characters are adults.  How Raine interacts with them and discovers her creative side makes for a lovely, touching story.  The mystery of Raine's own past adds a layer of intrigue. And the subplot involving Lillian brought tears to my eyes. This is a book about love and forgiveness and coming to terms with the past.

What quiet middle-grade books have you enjoyed?

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday is the brainchild of Shannon Whitney Messenger.  Today she's giving away a signed copy of A WHOLE NOTHER STORY  Shannon O'Donnell is back and discussing THE PRINCESS AND THE GOBLIN.  Myrna Foster is featuring THE ADVENTURES OF DANIEL BOOM AKA LOUD BOY!  And Brooke Favero showcases THE CLOCKWORK THREE. Hop on over to their blogs.  UPDATE:  Sherrie Petersen has an interview with Kekla Magoon, featuring her new MG book, CAMO GIRL.


  1. I cannot wait for this book. Sheila is a beautiful human being and has been such a wise soul for me to learn from during my publication journey.

    This is the sort of book I could have loved as a girl.

  2. This one looks wonderful. Thanks for your review.

  3. Great pick for an MMGM feature, Joanne!! :-)

  4. I do enjoy the quiet books. Adding this one to the list, too - which, by the way, has become quite unwieldy, due in no small part to your posts :-)

  5. Sounds like a wonderful story. Great idea to highlight a "quiet" book. One that I really enjoyed is The Last Best Days of Summer by Val Hobbs. It's a great MG story.

  6. hi miss joanne! mostly i like reading exciting guy stuff that got magic and neat inventions but this sounds like it could be pretty cool. thanks for doing mg monday. its perfect for me. :)
    ...smiles from lenny

  7. Wow, thanks for all the comments, everyone! I've been offline all day catching up on chores, including my taxes, ha ha.

    Lenny, welcome to my blog. Nice to see you here. Yes, exciting books with lots of action and cool inventions are fun. But once in a while, a quiet book is nice too.

    Kim, I'm sorry your TBR list is getting so unwieldy!

  8. I love the quiet books, too -- and so glad to see them getting well-deserved attention. This one is already on my TBR list. Thanks!!

  9. okay, first I have to stop smiling over Lenny's adorable!!

    then I have to say: hooray for this novel! I am soooo excited to read it. Thanks for the highlight.

  10. Welcome, Amy and Tess! Thanks for stopping by and thanks for your comments.

    Hey, Tess -- Lenny's comment made me smile too!

  11. Oh wow that sounds good. I like good quiet book - like Because of Winn Dixie. Thanks for sharing this one.

  12. I haven't read much MG - the last one was The Shifter by Janice Hardy. I'm not sure it's the quiet type of book you're talking about, though.

    But your review of Sparrow Road has certainly intrigued me and I will check it out. (Also, that cover it utterly gorgeous.)

    (I'm new to your blog. Wandered over from your comment on Amy Fellner Dominy's blog. Hi!)

  13. Hi Jill! Thanks for stopping by. Yes, Because of Winn Dixie is a great example.

    Welcome, anonymeet! Ah, The Shifter's exciting and action-packed. Yeah, I couldn't call that quiet. But there's room for both kinds of books in MG.


I've disabled comments on this blog. I may be back at some time in the future, but for now, please visit my website:

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.