The Wren and the Sparrow

  • Interest Level: Grade 3 - Grade 6
  • Reading Level: Grade 4

An old man, known as the Wren, plays his hurdy-gurdy, and with the help of his student, the Sparrow, brings hope and inspiration to the people of a small Polish town. A beautifully illustrated Holocaust fable by US Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis.

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Interest Level Grade 3 - Grade 6
Reading Level Grade 4
Genre Picture Books, Social Studies
Copyright 2015
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Kar-Ben Publishing ®
Language English
Number of Pages 32
Publication Date 2015-01-01
Text Type Fiction—Historical
BISACS JUV012030, JUV012020, JUV016060
Dewey [Fic]
Graphics Full-color illustrations
Dimensions 9.25 x 11
Lexile 880
Features Original artwork and Reviewed

Author: J. Patrick Lewis

J. Patrick Lewis has published over eighty-five children's picture and poetry books. He was recently given the NCTE Excellence in Children’s Poetry Award, and was the Poetry Foundation's third US Children's Poet Laureate (2011-2013).

Illustrator: Yevgenia Nayberg

Yevgenia Nayberg is an illustrator, painter, and set and costume designer. She received a Sydney Taylor Silver Medal for her illustrations for Drop by Drop. She lives in New York.


Jewish Book World

“The affecting text is filled with both pathos and hope, befitting the author’s status as U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate (2011 – 2013). Somber watercolor and pencil illustra­tions convey the historical darkness of the time, yet are punctuated with the Sparrow’s red hair and the rich tones of the instruments that invoke the hope of better days to come. A poetic tribute to the resilience and continuity of the Jewish people following the nightmare of the Holocaust.” — Jewish Book World


“A beautiful tale emphasizing the importance of music – especially during times of despair” — Booklist

Publishers Weekly

“Lewis (Harlem Hellfighters), the former U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate, writes in elevated, allusive, but always approachable language: ‘A six-year-old’s only possession, ten finger cymbals, tinkled like the sound of spring escaping winter.’ Nayberg’s solemn, stylized images portray people who are exhausted and terrorized (several images are genuinely frightening) but holding onto hope.” — Publisher’s Weekly

Kirkus Reviews

“Nayberg’s stylized brush strokes initially take tones of brown and drear, but they warm with hope toward the end. The textured creases and cracks of paint echo the deliberate folds of the letter that holds such importance. A lyrical look at a horrific time; an appeal to the necessity of remembering.” — Kirkus Reviews