Karen Cushman

Karen Cushman

Newbery award-winning children’s book author

Karen Cushman


Will Sparrow's Road

Will Sparrow's Road

Will Sparrow, liar and thief, is running away—from the father who sold him for beer, the innkeeper who threatened to sell him as a chimney sweep, from his whole, sad, sorry life. Barefoot and penniless, Will is determined to avoid capture, secure boots, and find something to eat.

The lively goings-on behind the scenes of Elizabethan market fairs provide a colorful, earthy backdrop for this wise and funny story of a runaway who finally and unexpectedly stops running.


Podcasts for you and your classroom, including “The Birth of Will Sparrow,” “Writing a Boy,” “Will Sparrow Reading,” “The Elizabethan Era,” and “Elements of Me”

Listen to the backstory for this book on TeachingBooks.net.

My Bookshelves: Elizabethan Times: How might a young boy have lived during these years? You may enjoy reading the books I read while doing my research. You may also find them helpful for your own writing.


“Offering action, humor, and heart in equal doses, Cushman’s story is, at its core, about creating and claiming a family of one’s own. Readers will be ready to follow Will anywhere from the very first page.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

“A compelling coming-of-age road trip.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“‘Will Sparrow was a liar and a thief, and hungry’ begins Karen Cushman’s latest novel. One of her recurring themes is that with enough pluck and mulishness, children will play through the bad hand fate deals them—once they’ve glimpsed a reason to do so. ‘I care for no one but myself,’ the boy starts out saying, ‘and nothing but my belly!’ while stealing a cold rabbit pie. By the end of Will Sparrow’s Road, when the boy’s conscience blossoms as he envisions a different life, we will have traveled with him through a lively and amusing parade of the late 16th century and through the hero’s own personal journey.” (“In His Own Time,” Michael Sims, The New York Times)

“And in the middle it is a story that will brook no dallying in the reading. So, when you start, just make sure that you have time to sit and savor the words, the scenes, the action and the adventure that is Will’s.” (Sal’s Fiction Addiction)

“A coming-of-age story set in a very different time from our own, this tale of Cushman’s makes this world come alive for middle readers.” (Books for Kids Blog)

“Karen Cushman is a master of portraying personal transformation: when Will is introduced, he is often rude and selfish but just vulnerable enough that he never quite slips into unlikeability, and the reader roots for him as he begins to see the error in his ways.” (Historical Novel Society)

Will Sparrow's Road

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