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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sparrow Girl (Juvenile)



Released February 2009

www.hyperionbooksforchildren.com

Reviewed by Deb Fowler

The Chinese were declaring war against the sparrows, claiming they were their enemies. Ming-Li’s Older Brother had a basket of firecrackers to frighten them away with, but Ming-Ling was upset because she liked sparrows. Even her mother and father were excited at the prospect of having a village barn filled with grain. If the sparrows were around, they would eat it all before it could be put into storage. She was so upset and couldn’t sleep. When she went in to talk to Older Brother, he simply said to her, “Our Leader’s plans are always perfect. They told us at school. Now, go to sleep!” Chairman Mao was always right.

The next morning the whole village seemed to explode with noise. Everyone was trying to drive away the sparrows. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! Birds began to fall from the sky. They were literally dying from fright. Ming-li ran home to check on her own pigeon. Older Brother must have let her out, but when she went up to the roof her pet flew to her. She died in her arms and “tears filled Ming’Li’s eyes.” Later, whenever she saw a bird fall to the ground, she rushed to pick it up. Perhaps she could save just one. The birds were coming down in torrents. Would there be any birds left in China?

This story is based on the true story of Chairman Mao’s Great Sparrow War in 1958. This program proved ecologically unsound because without the sparrows, the locust population grew and contributed to “a famine that killed between thirty and forty million Chinese” people. The story is very touching and heartbreaking. The art work superbly captures the mood of the story. This is a serious tale and would be an excellent choice for a historical or ecological class study.

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