The Triumphant Tale of the House Sparrow by Jan Thornhill

Published by Groundwood Books

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Summary:  As she did in The Tragic Tale of the Great Auk, Jan Thornhill tells the story of the interaction between birds and humans.  This one has a happier ending, though, as house sparrows have proven to be incredibly adaptable, often becoming pests that feed on agricultural grains.  The birds have spread around the globe with humans, traveling on ships with Roman soldiers to Great Britain and being introduced to the United States by homesick immigrants.  Despite their peskiness, sparrows also eat a lot of insects, as Chairman Mao discovered in 1958; his campaign against the Eurasian Tree sparrows led to a devastating famine in China. In the early 1980’s, the population of sparrows began to fall, and the author offers several theories–all of them based on human factors–for this decline.  In some places, this is starting to level off, offering hope that the house sparrow’s adaptability is helping it to survive in a changing world. Includes a map showing where the house sparrow lives; its life cycle; a glossary; and additional resources. 44 pages; grades 3-6.

Pros:  Beautifully illustrated and engagingly narrated, this informational book will help students learn more about animal adaptation and the relationship that exists between humans and animal species.

Cons:  I’ve always thought sparrows were kind of cute, and didn’t realize they are considered “the most despised bird in human history.”

If you would like to buy this book on Amazon, click here.

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