Life in Elizabethan England is hard, but Will Sparrow believes it is hardest for him. Left by his mother, sold by his father, and threatened to be sold again, young Will takes to the road. He vows to care only for [himself] and for nothing but [his] belly. However, caring for himself is harder than he expected. Will continually trusts the wrong people and consistently finds trouble. When he eventually joins up with a traveling fair group of oddities and prodigies, Will learns important life lessons. He learns that appearances can be deceiving and friendship is found in unexpected places.
In Will Sparrow's Road , Karen Cushman presents a well-researched and thorough picture of Elizabethan towns, cities, and fairs. She includes her list of sources, her basis for several characters, and recommendations for further reading at the end of the book. Her descriptions and history are accurate and her characters and story are delightful. While the setting is firmly fixed in history, Will's growth and development is universal. Most readers can relate to the lesson that beauty never guarantees goodness and strangeness isn't always bad. This book targets middle grade readers, but could entertain a wide variety of ages.