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Armenia 2017 Kids' Books


The Greedy Sparrow: An Armenian tale
Lucine Kasbarian, illust. Maria Zaikina, 2011, AGES 4–8

Publisher: Two Lions
Format: Hardcover, 32 pages
ISBN-10: 0761458212
ISBN-13: 978-0761458210

Summary: Retelling of a story about a trickster who is out-tricked: Once there was a sparrow who caught a thorn in his foot. When a kind baker removes the thorn, the sparrow tricks her into giving him some bread. Each time the sparrow meets new people, he tricks them out of bigger and better things. Will the sparrow’s greed get the best of him? Through this endearing Armenian folktale illustrated with mixed media, readers will learn that people who engage in dishonest or selfish behavior may end up losing whatever they gained because of that behavior.

School Library Journal: A homely sparrow turns a thorn in his foot to fine advantage in this simple spin on the familiar folktale of the rising fortunes and eventual downfall of one who overreaches. Revisiting the obliging baker who removed the thorn, sparrow asks for its return. Alas...she has thrown it in the oven. The tale moves forward in alternate bits of narrative atop or below each full-page scene and dialogue set in speech balloons. Either give me my thorn or give me some bread. The sparrow journeys far, conning the folks he encounters and parlaying the loaf of bread into a sheep, which in turn yields a bride from a countryside wedding. The sparrow s trade-ups involve leaving each of his gains for safekeeping with someone along the way who then ends up having to pay a forfeit. Either you give me the bride or give me the lute. Zaikina s expressive portrayals of both animal and human characters, rendered in bold outline and rich color, beautifully convey the tale s goofy fun. Her use of wax and oil paint in a kind of scratchboard technique smartly blends folk and cartoon styles. Though some may find the cartoon arrangement of conversation intrusive for reading aloud, others will find that it moves smoothly, adding nicely to the character portrayals. In the end, of course, sparrow s cockiness results in a fall (literally) from glory with nothing but a thorn in his foot.

"This story about a trickster who is out-tricked is a good choice for reading aloud...The humor and action in the bright illustrations will appeal to young children, as will the triumph of kindness over cheating." –Booklist Online

"This classic Armenian fable (Crime never pays! is the lesson at the end) is retold to the accompaniment of richly chromatic, folkloric scenes by a Moscow native that bring to mind Ukrainian Easter eggs." —ForeWord Reviews

"Armenian folk attire and references to places in Armenia authenticate the tale. It's a rhythmic read-aloud beginning readers can share." —Kirkus Reviews

2013 Nautilus Awards Silver Winner in the Children's Picture Books Category
2012 Honor Book by the Storytelling World Awards Committee