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Silhouette of a Sparrow
Cover of Silhouette of a Sparrow
Silhouette of a Sparrow
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WINNER OF THE MILKWEED PRIZE FOR CHILDREN'S LITERATURE
WINNER OF THE 2013 PATERSON PRIZE FOR BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS
ALA RAINBOW LIST RECOMMENDED BOOK
AMELIA BLOOMER PROJECT LIST RECOMMENDED BOOK
LAMBDA LITERARY AWARD FINALIST
MINNESOTA BOOK AWARD FINALIST
FOREWARD REVIEWS BOOK OF THE YEAR HONORABLE MENTION

In the summer of 1926, sixteen-year-old Garnet Richardson is sent to a lake resort to escape the polio epidemic in the city. She dreams of indulging her passion for ornithology and visiting the famous new amusement park—a summer of fun before she returns for her final year of high school, after which she's expected to marry a nice boy and settle into middle-class homemaking. But in the country, Garnet finds herself under the supervision of equally oppressive guardians—her father's wealthy cousin and the matron's stuck-up daughter. Only a liberating job in a hat shop, an intense, secret relationship with a daring and beautiful flapper, and a deep faith in her own fierce heart can save her from the suffocating boredom of traditional femininity.

WINNER OF THE MILKWEED PRIZE FOR CHILDREN'S LITERATURE
WINNER OF THE 2013 PATERSON PRIZE FOR BOOKS FOR YOUNG READERS
ALA RAINBOW LIST RECOMMENDED BOOK
AMELIA BLOOMER PROJECT LIST RECOMMENDED BOOK
LAMBDA LITERARY AWARD FINALIST
MINNESOTA BOOK AWARD FINALIST
FOREWARD REVIEWS BOOK OF THE YEAR HONORABLE MENTION

In the summer of 1926, sixteen-year-old Garnet Richardson is sent to a lake resort to escape the polio epidemic in the city. She dreams of indulging her passion for ornithology and visiting the famous new amusement park—a summer of fun before she returns for her final year of high school, after which she's expected to marry a nice boy and settle into middle-class homemaking. But in the country, Garnet finds herself under the supervision of equally oppressive guardians—her father's wealthy cousin and the matron's stuck-up daughter. Only a liberating job in a hat shop, an intense, secret relationship with a daring and beautiful flapper, and a deep faith in her own fierce heart can save her from the suffocating boredom of traditional femininity.

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  • Kindle Book
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Languages:-
Copies-
  • Available:
    1
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    5.5
  • Lexile:
  • Interest Level:
    UG
  • Text Difficulty:
    4

Recommended for you

About the Author-
  • Molly Beth Griffin is a graduate of Hamline University's MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and a writing teacher at the Loft Literary Center in the Twin Cities. Her first picture book, Loon Baby, came out with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2011. Silhouette of a Sparrow is her first novel.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 6, 2012
    With a father haunted by his WWI service and a mother consumed with social standing, 16-year-old Garnet is eager to spend time with relatives in the resort town of Excelsior, Minn., during the summer of 1926. She soon settles into life with her snooty aunt and frosty 14-year-old cousin. Garnet is a bird lover who uses scissors to create silhouettes of the birds she sees (a “quaint Victorian pastime,” as she puts it), but this interest masks her deeper passion for the study and protection of birds. Garnet accepts that her future is marriage, not college, at least until she meets Isabella, a dancer who shows Garnet how to follow her dreams and opens her eyes to unexpected romance. Garnet’s sexual awakening is suffused with lightness and joy, and her familial and identity struggles will resonate with contemporary teens, although the ending is perhaps too neat. Picture book author Griffin’s (Loon Baby) first novel for teens is laced with evocative period details that give readers a taste of what it was like to come of age during the flapper era. Ages 12–up.

  • Kirkus

    August 1, 2012
    A sweet, quiet coming-of-age story set in a Prohibition-era lakeside resort. Middle-class Garnet, 16, has been sent from St. Paul to spend the summer with a distant, wealthy relative to give her shellshocked World War I-veteran father space to heal. She misses him terribly; before the war they went birding together, and he protected her from her mother's attempts to make her a lady. She has sublimated her love of the outdoors into an uncanny talent to cut the silhouettes of birds, which decorate and inform each chapter. Once in Excelsior, she finds herself bored by ladylike pursuits and both seeks employment with the milliner and falls in love with Isabella, a beautiful girl who performs in the forbidden dance hall. Race relations, class differences and "the love that dare not speak its name" intertwine thoughtfully in this meticulous novel. The Jazz Age resort-town setting and environs are beautifully evoked; the author's afterword attests to her research. Garnet's narration reveals a girl on the cusp of modernity, one whose desire for something more and something else feels both alluring and terrifying. A subplot in which Garnet attempts to convince her employer not to use feathers in her hats is consistent but feels superfluous in this otherwise tight and purposeful, if slightly overdetermined, novel. This slim tale is a positive breath of fresh air in a market bloated with opportunistic dystopian and paranormal romances. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)

    COPYRIGHT(2012) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Sarah Diemer, Muse Rising

    "Silhouette of a Sparrowis a stunning book, a historical novel that features a girl-who-loves-girls protagonist, a triumph from start to finish."

  • Jackie Reitzes, Minneapolis Star Tribune "The coming-of-age story features a thoughtful protagonist with a gentle voice. Opulent setting descriptions complement interesting historical detail and beautiful language. The motif of different bird species to begin each chapter serves as a neat structural metaphor for various characters in the story (not unlike Annie Proulx's knots in The Shipping News). Garnet's feminist and environmental concerns are relevant for a young contemporary audience without feeling anachronistic to the narrative."
  • McNally Jackson Kids, online "Beautiful...unique story"
  • The Lesbrary "A very quick and enjoyable read. It gave me a glimpse into a period of time that I was unfamiliar with, and had a range of engaging characters and a believable storyline."
  • Kirkus Reviews "A sweet, quiet coming-of-age story set in a Prohibition-era lakeside resort....This slim tale is a positive breath of fresh air in a market bloated with opportunistic dystopian and paranormal romances. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)"
  • Michael Cart, Booklist "Tenderly and touchingly realized...a pleasant and diverting read. "
  • Publishers Weekly "Picture book author Griffin's (Loon Baby) first novel for teens is laced with evocative period details that give readers a taste of what it was like to come of age during the flapper era. Ages 12–up."
  • Lydia Harris, Lambda Literary "Silhouette of a Sparrow is an excellent example of an historical coming-of-age lesbian young adult novel. Written with a deft hand, based in the true history of its setting, and with characterizations that will ring true to any teenager, it is a worthy and enjoyable read for anyone. The writing style is straight-forward so the plot turns, analogies, and descriptions stand out, adding vibrancy to the story. Take flight with Garnet by reading and undoubtedly enjoying the telling of her story."
  • Marsha Qualey, author of Come in from the Cold and Just Like That "Rich with emotion and loaded with fascinating details of the flapper era, Silhouette of a Sparrow is a wonderful novel about independence and first love."
  • Liza Ketchum, author of Newsgirl and Where the Great Hawk Flies "Like the birds that young Garnet catalogs and cuts out in paper silhouettes, Molly Beth Griffin's feisty narrator leaves her fledgling self behind as she spreads her wings and learns to fly. Rich in period detail, Griffin links past to present in a compelling novel that is both a love story and the tale of a budding ornithologist. Young readers will respond to Garnet's need to heal her broken family, even as she struggles to follow her dreams. A fine debut novel!"
  • Peg O'Donnell, National Accounts Manager, Publishers Group West "Silhouette of a Sparrow is an extraordinary young adult novel. Molly Beth Griffin has crafted a compelling story with evocative, lyrical prose, and her descriptive language brilliantly captures the atmosphere of the 1920's. 16 year old Garnet Richardson pushes the boundaries in this sensitive coming-of-age story; a journey of self-discovery, independence, and young love. If Sarah Waters (Tipping the Velvet, Fingersmith, The Night Watch) or Julia Anne Peters (Keeping You A Secret, Define Normal, Luna) were to write an historical YA coming-out novel, they would be challenged to deliver a story equal to that of Silhouette of a Sparrow. This is a triumphant debut novel- it's only flaw is that it ended."
  • Booklist “This lovely picture book addresses a child's fear of abandonment and offers the reassurance of a mother's love."
  • Kirkus “Guaranteed to hit the mark with anyone who's ever felt lost and alone."
  • Publishers Weekly “While understated, the story has a sturdy quality that should stand up to repeated read-alouds."
  • School Library Journal “This gentle story of a young bird's fears of being abandoned by an out-of-sight parent offers reassurance to children in a similar situation."
  • Hornbook Guide to Children “...lyrical narrative..."
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