Timothy Sperling is left behind with his morose uncle while his parents are off on an expedition to avert an environmental crisis. Missing them terribly, he makes a wish on a shooting star that ends up in disaster - a snowstorm that won't stop! Along with his friends the sparrows, Tim teams up with a wise explorer to attempt the impossible task of stopping the snow.
Plot/Idea: Kindall offers readers a luscious plot that gives the impression of a daydream. There are a handful of surprises to keep readers invested in the outcome, but the novel maintains a satisfying mysteriousness throughout. Themes of belonging and destiny are lyrically revealed through the eyes of the eccentric main characters.
Prose: The prose is a dreamy, playful reflection on classical tales and proves pitch-perfect for the intended audience. Kindall delivers natural dialogue and the extravagant descriptions generally fit the story—although a select few verge on the overindulgent.
Originality: This fantasy story combines whimsy with a quirky, subtle humor that will entertain readers of all ages. YA stories of self-discovery are well-known, but the fanciful and offbeat scenes in this novel are anything but conventional.
Character Development/Execution: Morris is profoundly dispirited, and his internal struggles are skillfully wrought through fanciful prose and perfectly delivered musings. Tim is equally magnetic in his own sensitive, wistful way, and Kindall manages to imbue both characters with a satisfying mix of eccentricity and familiarity.
Date Submitted: May 12, 2022
Soon, a wintry meteorological miracle enchants the residents of Candela–until the ceaseless snowfall slowly smothers the town. Kindall ties this disaster to the history of Tim’s family, once devoted (and impoverished) ornithologists who built their fortune on luxurious, feather-covered clothing, resulting in the near extinction of an exquisite, nigh-unto mystical bird called the Ocular Sparrow. Like his other middle-grade fantasy novels (Blue Sky and Pearl), Sparrow focuses on a young, isolated protagonist exploring beyond their boundaries, but Tim is also a classic dystopian hero, carrying the burden of his guilt-ridden, frozen-in-place community while striving to change their future.
Delightful names (The Worldwide League of Exhaustive Investigations into Feathered Beings) and ornate dialogue (“a barometric boondoggle of the most exaggerated enormity”) are sprinkled throughout, but what makes Sparrow soar is the way Kindall constructs the narrative as a process of discovery. Interjections like “Now, as we already know…” serve as guideposts for young readers, who experience revelations alongside Tim and Morris (in flashback), whose comforting layers of naiveté are methodically peeled away. Self-awareness means looking beyond yourself, Kindall asserts in this adventure of identity, and understanding his place in the world allows Sparrow to take flight.
Takeaway: Budding birders will embrace this imaginative historical fantasy, which deftly blends exploration and introspection.
Great for fans of: Meindert DeJong’s The Wheel on the School, Cory Leonardo’s The Simple Art of Flying, and Sandy Stark-McGinnis’ Extraordinary Birds.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: A-
SPARROW by Brian Kindall launches on all platforms. Find it anywhere books are sold!