A lively twist on the immigrant story
When John Bardsley leaves England to seek his fortune in America, he finds that his new city, Philadelphia, is crawling with inchworms! No one seems to know how to get rid of them, and the American birds turn up their beaks at the thought of eating any. Recalling his rescue of a very hungry baby sparrow when he was a boy, John comes up with a novel way to solve the problem, and he once again sets sail across the ocean in order to save his new city – with some help from his feathered friends.
Using detailed illustrations, Mordicai Gerstein tells the little-known story of how sparrows came to America and how John Bardsley came to be known as Sparrow Jack.
Sparrow Jack is a 2004 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.
About the Author
Mordicai Gerstein is the author and illustrator of The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, winner of the Caldecott Medal, and has had four books named New York Times Best Illustrated Books of the Year. Gerstein was born in Los Angeles in 1935. He remembers being inspired as a child by images of fine art, which his mother cut out of Life magazine, and by children’s books from the library: “I looked at Rembrandt and Superman, Matisse and Bugs Bunny, and began to make my own pictures.”
He attended Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles, and then got a job in an animated cartoon studio that sent him to New York, where he designed characters and thought up ideas for TV commercials. When a writer named Elizabeth Levy asked him to illustrate a humorous mystery story about two girls and a dog, his book career began, and soon he moved on to writing as well as illustrating. “I’m still surprised to be an author,” he says. “I wonder what I’ll write next?” Gerstein lives in Westhampton, Massachusetts.
Date of Birth:November 25, 1935
Place of Birth:Los Angeles, California
Education:Chouinard Institute of Art
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a neat little story about a man that brought sparrows to America to each the inch worms. This would be a great realoud to read to the class before learning about the food chain. 3nd and 4th graders could easily understand the book and the concept of the food chain. The pictures are creative and I think students would enjoy reading this book.
With vibrantly enchanting illustrations the vaunted Mordicai Gerstein relates the surprising story of John Bardsley and the introduction of sparrows to America. It was the middle of the 19th century when Bardsley, like so many others, left his native land to find fortune in America. Philadelphia was his city of choice; house painting his work. To his amazement he found that his adopted city was literally crawling with inchworms. One of the little rascals even dove into his shirt, a tickling annoyance. Soon, the inchworms were devouring the leaves on bushes and trees. Birds that were native to Philadelphia, jays, wrens, robins, and thrushes didn't find the little wigglers appetizing. Even though people were hired to pick the inchworms off the trees it was a losing battle. No one had any idea what to do - except for Bardsley. He remembered the sparrows he had befriended when he was a boy in England, and believed that they could rid the city of inchworms. Off he went, across the ocean again, and seasick all the way. Yet, he was determined to bring his feathered friends to Philadelphia. Did the birds accompany him back to America? Did they save the city's greenery? You'll have to read this imaginative, amusing tale by the one and only Mordicai Gerstein to find out!