Book Review: Song of the Sparrow
Sandell, Lisa Ann. Song of the Sparrow. Scholastic. 2007.
Elaine is sixteen years old and has been living in the war camp with her brothers and father ever since she was very young. King Arthur depends on her to help heal his wounded men and Elaine cannot imagine a different life until arthur’s bride to be, Gwynivere arrives in camp throwing Elaine’s whole life into dissaray.
When Arthur rises to power and his bride-to-be arrives at his military encampment, 16-year-old Elaine, who was raised at the camp, watches in horror as her childhood crush, Lancelot, falls for dazzling Gwynivere. Rivals in love but united in their frustration and despair as the men march toward a decisive battle, the young women participate in a reckless act that gives way to heroism and self-discovery. A somewhat improbable conclusion casts Elaine-a character modeled on the Lady of Shalott-as more empowered than her tragic counterpart in Alfred Lord Tennyson’s familiar poem. The novel’s verse form is consistent with the ballads typical of Arthurian source material, although its distilled nature does not always allow for the rich detail and development that many readers seek in historical fiction. Still, the unadorned writing style reflects Sandell’s magic-free interpretations, rooting the characters in the bloody business of pre-Camelot power wrangling. Offer this to readers familiar with the lore, who will be most equipped to appreciate Sandell’s interweaving of several plot strands and her thoughtful end matter.
– Source for choosing this book: Booklist
– Grades 7-10
– Related Book: Tennyson, Alfred Lord. The Lady of Shalott. Kids Can. 2005.
– Both stories deal with Elaine and the King Arthur Mythology.