Bound To Stay Bound

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 Kozo the sparrow
 Author: Say, Allen

 Publisher:  Clarion (2023)

 Classification: Easy
 Physical Description: 34 p., col. ill., 26 cm

 BTSB No: 781126 ISBN: 9780063248465
 Ages: 4-8 Grades: K-3

 Sparrows -- Fiction
 Friendship -- Fiction

Price: $23.98

A young boy recounts his friendship with a little sparrow.

   Kirkus Reviews (08/15/23)
   School Library Journal (+) (10/27/23)
   Booklist (10/01/23)
 The Hornbook (00/11/23)

Full Text Reviews:

Booklist - 10/01/2023 Notable author-illustrator Say draws upon a personal childhood experience in this bittersweet story of a boy and a special bird. When a boy comes upon village bullies holding a weakened baby sparrow, he determines to rescue it. After trading them his special possessions, he carefully carries the bird home. His parents think the bird is beyond help, but with the boy's careful nurturing, the sparrow, which he names Kozo (“Little Boy”), thrives. Soon, boy and bird are enjoying playtime and sweet moments together. At his teacher’s request, he brings Kozo to school, but when his classmates distress Kozo, the boy runs home, only to encounter the bullies again—leading him to make a decision to ensure Kozo’s well-being and safety, even if it means being without his feathered friend. The boy’s straightforward narrative gently relates the progression of the pair’s mutually rewarding relationship and the meaningfulness of care and kindness, themes furthered in Say's soft, realistic, and expressive watercolor illustrations. Say’s endnote provides story background and context, including about growing up in post-WWII Japan and the real-life Kozo. - Copyright 2023 Booklist.

School Library Journal - 10/27/2023 Gr 2–6—A heart-wrenching tale of a sensitive Japanese boy around elementary school age who, when he sees "three bad boys" with a baby sparrow, trades his most treasured possessions to rescue it from their malice. Taking the bird home, the nameless protagonist makes a nest for it and learns how to feed it, until it becomes a beloved pet he names Kozo, or Little Boy. When Kozo is again threatened, the protagonist must make a difficult sacrifice, with the touching climax related solely through images. The world the book presents is a poignant, but not a comforting one, with cruelty a continuing threat and adults not to be depended upon to provide security: the protagonist's mother almost lets Kozo escape, and a teacher who promises she will control the class is impotent when the children's behavior scares the tiny bird. The text has a vividness and immediacy which arrests readers from the opening line, with first-person narration with short sentences and simple language evoking the child's perspective. The evocative illustrations are created with pencil, watercolor, and dip pen and brush, and demonstrate a range of different styles: Kozo is rendered in naturalistic detail, the protagonist within his domestic sphere is depicted in soft pastels, while the bullies have a grotesque, goblin-like quality reminiscent of the work of Armin Gred. Say's author's note explains that the tale is based on his experiences as a child in Kyushu. VERDICT A mature and moving story replete with both tenderness and cruelty. Highly recommended as a picture book for older elementary students and all those with an interest in illustration.—Leonie Jordan - Copyright 2023 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.

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