Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sparrow Girl by Sara Pennypacker; illustrated by Yoko Tanaka

Ming-Li likes birds and so does her brother who has a pet pigeon. When Chairman Mao orders war on the sparrows who are eating the wheat, Ming-Li is worried. She creeps to her brother's bed and asks him what if other birds get pigeon?

Mao tells the people to bang pots, pans, and set off firecrackers to scare the birds to death for three days. Not only is the campaign successful, other birds die as well, including the brother's pet pigeon. Saddened by what is happening Ming-Li and her brother search for birds who have not died. They find seven birds and put them in the pigeon's now-empty cage. Because it is so crowded, Ming-Li secretly moves the birds to the barn and feeds and cares for them. When the crops begin to fail because of too many locusts, the farmers realize that they should not have killed all the sparrows who ate those insects. Find out how Ming-Li becomes a hero for her village.

This book is based on a true story when in 1958 Mao ordered all the sparrows killed because they were eating the crops. A plague of locusts came and destroyed the crops for 3 years. Thirty to forty million Chinese dies from starvation because of the failed crops. There is much to talk about with this book such as the ecological disaster, the civil disobedience of Ming-Li, and wisdom. A great read aloud.

Reading Level 3.5

:-) :-) :-) :-) :-) 5 out of 5 Smileys


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