Book Review: Brian Pinkney’s The Adventures of Sparrowboy

Posted May 27, 2017 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews, Children's

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Brian Pinkney’s The Adventures of Sparrowboy

The Adventures of Sparrowboy


Brian Pinkney

action & adventure, picture book that was published by Simon & Schuster for Young Readers on April 1, 1997 and has 40 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Illustrator: Brian Pinkney

A standalone action adventure for readers four years of age and up with a young African-American paperboy with compassion.

In 1997, The Adventures of Sparrowboy won the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Picture Book.

My Take

I love it! I love it! Just what every “kid” would love, to suddenly achieve a superpower. And I absolutely loved how Pinkney segued into Henry achieving power. A nice parallel plot device there.

They’re simple, if scary!, events that afternoon, related in third-person objective point-of-view, and exactly what your child could encounter in his or her own neighborhood with Henry a wonderful example of how a person should react.

Even more amazing is what Henry discovers in that surprise ending. Parents will love the opportunity to talk about how Henry saved the day as well as debate what they would have done at the end.

The graphics are an odd combination of stark and colorful, geometric and swirling.

The Story

A mysterious encounter on Thurber Street will change Henry’s life forever.

The Characters

Henry is a paperboy with a heart, who loves to read the front page…and then the comics. Boy after me own heart.

Trooper Mark Steed is also Falconman, a superhero sworn to defend the defenseless, and Henry’s hero. Sparrow is a small bird Henry encounters.

Will and Matt are troublesome twins. Dawn has a kitty. Bruno is the neighborhood bully; Wolf is his dog.

The Cover and Title

The cover has the look of a woodcut with a pale yellow sky and swirling scratches of pastels and blacks to create wind-driven clouds. The central figure is Henry in his red puffy jacket and blue swirl’a pants, a yellow bicycle helmet, and rolls of newspapers in a bag on his back, standing in that superhero pose with hands on hips. The title soars across the top with the first three letters in red outlined in black while the last word of the title is in a three-dimensional blue-green with blue and black shadow colors. The author’s name is in black in a shadowed orange rectangle at the lower right.

The title is an afternoon of The Adventures of Sparrowboy.