A boy sets out to chronicle his eventful journey in this updated version of a children’s book.
Woodsprout is born to loving parents living on a small farm. One day, his father gives him a beautiful, red leather book with blank pages. The blond-haired Sprout aims to fill it with stories and adventures, and he searches for both with a feathered quill (that doubles as a pen) in his green cap. He first comes across a miller, who gives Sprout a list of rather dour adjectives followed by, thankfully, a host of uplifting ones. Later, a librarian teaches the boy that stringing nouns and verbs together can become knowledge, so long as the statement he has created is true. A lowly knight at a local tavern is less accommodating. He has an amazing story of slaying a fire-breathing dragon, but the warrior may have left out a few key details. Meanwhile, Sprout’s own adventure awaits. A girl loses all her coins to a swindler, and Sprout vows to help, even if that means facing a wicked hag of the forest. Gleason’s entertaining story, originally published in 1987, teems with educational moments. Books, for example, are full of wonderment, as words clearly hold power, and Sprout nearly gets lost among a library’s mazelike bookshelves. This charming protagonist aids someone without hesitation and picks up quotable life lessons, like “good deeds are their own best reward.” In the same vein, Gleason’s prose, though catered to younger readers, is indelible—Sprout’s feet crunch dried leaves, and the knight’s armor is a “clatter of squeaks and rusty groans.” Suzenski’s (the author’s niece-once-removed) simple artwork showing the White hero and diverse characters glows with bright colors, from the purple dragon to a blue-faced, always-smiling wizard. This second edition also includes personal photographs of Gleason, who died in 2009, as well as a glossary of the book’s challenging words and a genuinely fun study guide.
A vibrant tale of youth and self-discovery for readers of all ages.
– Kirkus Reviews