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Victim becomes victimizer in this tale inspired by an Armenian fable. A sparrow catches a thorn in his foot and asks a baker to remove it. She obliges and throws it in the oven. Later, the sparrow returns to ask for the thorn and, audaciously demands bread in its place. He tricks the shepherd in the same way, giving him the bread to watch and when the shepherd eatsit,thesparrow demands a sheep. Flying over a wedding feast,he asks the groom to mind the sheep, but the groom feeds the wedding guestsshish kabobsand the sparrowwants the bride in payment! The sparrow continues his escalation until he ends up with a lute—until, sitting on a thorny branch, he loses his footing. The lute falls, andhe is as he began, with nothing but a thorn in his foot. The author notes this is based on a centuries-old Armenian tale.In Zaikina's bold, folk-style illustrations, both characters and landscape are heavily outlined in black, andthe characters' dialogue is in speech balloons.Pictures are lightened with bright, textured colors (they were made with oil paint and layers of wax) and have an appealing, vigorous heft. Armenian folk attire and references to places in Armenia authenticate the tale. It's a rhythmicread-aloudbeginning readerscan share.(Picture book. 4-7)
Posted April 1, 2011
"The Greedy Sparrow: An Armenian Tale", written by Lucine Kasbarian and illustrated by Maria Zaikina, is an Armenian fable. A fable is a story that teaches a lesson about life.
The sparrow in this story has a thorn in his foot. He takes advantage of a woman baking a loaf of bread and tricks her into giving him the bread. The trickster repeats this behavior over and over again, never satisfied with what he has. He finally ends up losing everything and finds himself with another thorn stuck in his foot. The author states, "we learn that people who engage in dishonest or selfish behavior may end up losing whatever they gained because of that behavior."
The book illustrations were rendered with layers of wax and oil paint, and then the layers were cut away to reveal the colors underneath. The illustrations do an excellent job portraying the Armenian culture and landscape. The pictures are colorful and cheerful. The animal's expressions are delightful and humorous.
I think children today need understand that crime doesn't pay. There will always be consequences for bad behavior. I also like the way the story and the illustrations teach about a far-away place with a strange sounding name. Most American children are probably not familiar with the Republic of Armenia. This would be a wonderful opportunity to get out the globe and talk about people who live on the other side of the world.
The author provides an excellent study guide and activities on her web site. There are so many lessons that can be taught from this book. Great for children of all ages!
I want to thank Ms. Kasbarian for sending me a digital copy of this book to read and review. It was a real pleasure.