Reviews for Kozo the sparrow

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Letting go can be the hardest—and kindest—thing to do. A beige-skinned, dark-haired, East Asian–presenting boy interrupts some bullies bothering a helpless baby sparrow and, in exchange for a few treasures, convinces them to give him the animal. Against his parents’ admonitions, the boy uses a straw to feed the bird and names him Kozo. Day by day, Kozo gets stronger and forms a special bond with the boy, chirping and flapping his wings with excitement when the child returns home from school. Even when Kozo gets loose outside, he comes right back to the boy. The boy’s teacher encourages him to bring Kozo to school to show the other children. Worried about Kozo’s safety, the boy nevertheless agrees when the teacher promises to keep a close eye on the class. However, the other children chase Kozo and frighten him, and then after school, the bullies return. To keep his friend safe, the boy makes a difficult decision to do the kindest thing, even if it hurts. Realistic illustrations rendered in watercolor, dip pen and brush, and pencil rely on ample white space to spotlight the boy’s connection with Kozo. This poignant yet straightforward narrative navigates complex themes of friendship, loneliness, kindness, and bravery. An author’s note explains that the story is based on an experience in Say’s childhood growing up in postwar Japan. (This book was reviewed digitally.) A deeply personal tale that underscores the power of kindness. (Picture book. 5-9) Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.