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The Adventures of Sparrowboy

by Brian Pinkney

Publishers Weekly : Though sobering front-page headlines worry a young paperboy, the comics--especially a strip called Falconman--lift him up. Quite literally, in fact. After Henry peruses a Falconman strip in which a magical falcon converts a police trooper into a superman by lending him the power to fly, the boy's bike collides with a similarly gifted sparrow. Suddenly airborne, the boy delivers his newspapers in flight while saving innocent neighbors from a menacing bully and his growling pooch. For the course of Henry's transformation, the book adopts a comic-strip format, accenting the boxed, action-filled pictures with brief, punchy text and a chorus of sound effects like "CHIRP!", "WHOOSH!" and "THONK!" In a final, satisfying coup, Henry comes to the rescue of the benevolent sparrow, vulnerable because it has temporarily relinquished its powers of flight to Henry, a development that readers will delight in discovering before the boy does. The plot unravels chiefly through Pinkney's (Max Found Two Sticks; see I Smell Honey, reviewed above) airy, motion-filled art, expertly rendered in scratchboard, transparent dyes and gouaches in creamy colors never before seen in a comic book. Clever quips and asides add humor and playful melodrama. Pinkney clearly had a blast creating this soaring story, and his high spirits are transferable to the reader--ZAP! Ages 4-9.

Copyright 1997 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

School Library Journal : PreS-Gr 1--Fretting over headlines in the newspapers he's delivering, Henry almost runs over a sparrow on the sidewalk. There's a flash of light, and suddenly, like his comic-strip hero Falconman, the boy is swooping through the skies fighting evil--or, at least, collaring a scary dog, rescuing a cat from a bully's clutches, and repeatedly snatching the temporarily flightless sparrow out of danger in the nick of time. Like newspaper comics, Pinkney's full-color scratchboard scenes are done in page-sized panels, with a minimum of text but maximum action, dramatized by swirling lines, wide gestures, and "THONK!" "ZAP!" sound effects. Henry's heroics will win readers over instantly; he may not save the world, but before he returns to Earth, he does make his suburban neighborhood "just a little better." That's a plausible goal for any actual or would-be superhero.

John Peters, New York Public Library Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms