Exquisite modern-day fairy tale brings a philosophical adventure story to kids about the meaning of life.
A journey of self-discovery teaches a boy lessons of wisdom, truth, and goodness.
When a young boy named Woodsprout comes of age, his father gifts him a treasure: an intricately handcrafted book bound in fine red leather with the instruction that he fill up the pages with his life’s story. The ensuing journey has ‘Sprout’ on a quest for words, knowledge, and adventure. Sprout, by Richard Gleason, is a reflective and illuminating fairy tale novel of wisdom and purpose for middle-grade readers, available now.
“I have just begun the task of living, and I must fill out the pages of my book,” says the story’s young Sprout, who knew he’d have to set out into the world in search of stories to record, collecting lots of words and sentences, to pen his adventures. Along his personal excursion through villages and forests, and in hopes of meeting a real hero, he meets up with characters who provide valuable nuggets of wisdom and experience.
Sprout first meets up with a weary and gruff Miller, hauling milled grain in his wagon, and asks the irritable man for adjectives to fill up his smart red book. The sour Miller is aplenty with negative and bad adjectives that he himself has collected throughout his life. Sprout’s responding sad face helps the Miller to remember that “a story begun with good adjectives will have a better ending,” and, to redeem himself, he takes the boy with him to search for proper good words, landing themselves at a Tavern. There, an overserved Knight in a rusty old suit of armor regales the pair with a story of his heroic rescue of a fair maid with his slaying of a fiery dragon. A far-fetched tale with obvious holes, it teaches Sprout a lesson that a good story is a good story whether or not it actually happened, and to be truthful about whatever you say.
His leave from the Miller leads him to a hidden-away library, where he knows he can find facts and knowledge to add to his book, for his father had told him that “knowledge was like rich soil to corn and spring rain to grass, that it made the mind grow.” The eccentric librarian there shares with Sprout that there are “limitless wonders of knowledge” and that seeking knowledge is like chasing after a sunset.
“You see, my dear,” the Librarian continued, “living is questioning. We must question to live. All of us question and answer our way along through life until, in the end, all our questions are answers and all our answers are the greatest question of all, WHY?”
Having new words of knowledge to add to the pages of his book, Sprout continues his journey, bringing him into the Forest where he is met by a despondent young girl, Dawn, on a quest to find the Good Wizard of the Forest, who she hopes she can pay to help her ailing mother at home. In tears, the girl reveals to Sprout that she was cleverly tricked out of her gold coins by unsavory characters avowing to help her, yet with ill intentions: a toad-like man and a wicked old hag. Promising to retrieve her coins and find the Good Wizard, Sprout selflessly offers his prized red book to the nefarious duo and, instead, is aided by an Owl who had heard of his goodhearted promise to the girl. The Owl, unveiled as the Good Wizard himself, shows Sprout that the hero the boy was looking for is within himself, for all the selfless and noble deeds he accomplished without a thought.
“Wise and good wizards are truly marvelous and quite magical in their ways because goodness, coupled with wisdom, can make all sorts of things possible that most would never imagine.”
A masterful and fascinating fairy tale of truth, knowledge, and goodness, Sprout serves complex and philosophical lessons of life in a beautifully written story that is sure to become an enduring classic.