January’s Sparrow is a book that I will be integrating into our class’ study of slavery. My students connect really well to picture books that contain the historical content we’re studying. The fact that they usually have a happy ending also helps temper the heavy topics. You don’t want eleven year olds to feel completely hopeless!
Patricia Polacco’s story is unique in that it encompasses a long period of time. The book actually seems to have several different plots, surrounding the lives of slaves who have escaped to Michigan from Kentucky. It is a sweet story, but also has gory details about the beating of a slave. Readers who are very young will be frightened and in need of explanation. This is definitely a book that you should read with a child.
The illustrations in January’s Sparrow are so special. The reader can see all of the strokes that went into the drawings. The expressions on the characters’ faces are beautifully rendered and remind me of the happiness I felt when I saw the recent “Curious George” movie. It’s nice to see artwork that is not computer-generated.
January’s Sparrow is a worthwhile addition to any classroom library.