Katie is fishing while Charles is hunting birds with his slingshot. He kills a song sparrow but its young one is protected by Katie. She takes the young sparrow home and nurses it until it's healthy and strong. Throughout the summer a remorseful Charles participates in the caring and eventually throws away his slingshot as Katie frees the young bird. The Canadian illustrator, who created last year's notable The Very Last First Time, has written an understated story of responsive children growing up in the magical setting of Niagara Falls. Wallace's figures are bathed in light pointillistic landscapes that reveal the grandeur of nature. Ages 48. (May)
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4 While fishing by the creek, Katie finds a baby sparrow whose mother was carelessly killed by Katie's older brother, Charles, with his slingshot. Katie is furious and unforgiving toward Charles and turns her energy and attention toward nurturing the little orphan. When the bird first tries to fly, Katie takes it to the mythic gorge, ``the most magical place I know'' (actually Niagara Falls) and lets the little creature try its wings. Charles joins her, not to try to kill the bird but to apologize, and with Katie's forgiveness the two of them dedicate themselves to raising the fledgling to maturity. Ultimately, of course, the sparrow must be set free, but it finds a way to let the children know that it is safe. There is vivid detail and imagination in the rough-edged, impressionistic watercolors, and a pastoral air about the whole of the gentle story. However, the writing has an old-fashioned quality that may be too saccharine for today's children. Kathleen Brachmann, Highland Park Public Library, Ill.