Heartlessness leads to leaflessness for trees that refuse to shelter an injured sparrow for the winter.
Of (possibly, according to the source note) Cherokee origin, the tale opens with Papa Sparrow, one wing injured, sending his family south and then seeking shelter from, respectively, Maple, Oak, and Willow. All three rudely reject him, but Pine, Spruce, and Juniper are more welcoming. That night, at the behest of irritated King Forest, Winter Wind denudes the uncharitable trio—who have continued to lose their leaves in wintertime ever since. Chriscoe’s retelling flows on a gentle rhythm fueled by recurring phrases, but some passages have an artificial ring: “And how do I know you won’t damage my lovely, gorgeous leaves?” Willow complains. “You may not stay for the winter in my gentle, hanging foliage.” Moreover, though the sparrow and closer views of leaves and twigs are realistically drawn, the personified trees in Detwiler’s illustrations sport cartoonish Green Man–style faces with exaggerated grimaces or grins. Pages of nature facts and study questions follow the tale. Alexis York Lumbard’s Pine and the Winter Sparrow, illustrated by Beatriz Vidal (2015), presents a better written and more appealingly illustrated version of the same story.
Unexceptional despite the addenda and likely to be overshadowed. (bibliography) (Picture book/folk tale. 6-8)