Thursday, January 24, 2008

Song of the Sparrow

Sandell, Lisa Ann. 2007. SONG OF THE SPARROW. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439918480 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-10]

In the midst of war and political upheaval, one young woman comes of age: Elaine of Ascolat--the Lady of Shalott. Elaine's story is bittersweet. She's saddened by the loss of her mother, yet surrounded by her family--two brothers and her father. Plus she's been adopted by the whole camp of soldiers--Arthur, Lancelot, Tristan, Gawain, and Gareth--all of whom call her friend and look upon her as a sister. But therein lies the problem. Elaine is a woman whose counsel, healing acts, and mending are sought out by all, yet she feels overshadowed when the beautiful Gwynivere arrives at camp. How can she ever hope to compete with a woman who has everyone entranced? SONG OF THE SPARROW is a story of a young girl finding out the difference between infatuation and real love, make believe and reality.

SONG OF THE SPARROW retells the story of Elaine the Lady of Shalott. While the literary tradition has Elaine beautiful but weak, Sandell's Elaine is strong and brave. While she is lovesick about Lancelot, she is not that desperate. The poetry is powerful and effective in communicating the behind-the-scenes emotions and capturing the sights and sounds of camp and war.

Read Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “The Lady of Shalott” that inspired this story. Discuss and compare the two.

Choose a poem or a sequence of poems from the SONG OF THE SPARROW and do a dramatic reading.

Other Arthurian books for young adults:
Bradley, Marion Zimmer. THE MISTS OF AVALON. ISBN 0345350499
Stewart, Mary. MERLIN TRILOGY. ISBN 0688003478
Yolen, Jane. SWORD OF THE RIGHTFUL KING. ISBN 0152025278

By Becky Laney

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