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Stuff for the Teen Age, LGBT@NYPL

Booktalking "Silhouette of a Sparrow" by Molly Beth Griffin


Sixteen-year-old Garnet Richardson finds a breath of fresh air in her summer visit to Excelsior, Minnesota in 1926 to live in a hotel with Mrs. Harrington and her daughter Hannah. She is relieved to escape the problems of home, and a little bit scared to enter into the world of the intriguing and beautiful flapper, 17-year-old Isabella. She is excited to start her life as a career woman as a hat shop girl with Miss Maples. Garnet and Isabella share a passion with each other that is definitely not accepted at that time and place.

Garnet is obsessed with birds, and she spends her spare time cutting out silhouettes of them and studying every bird book that she can find in the local library. She is alarmed to find feathers of endangered species in the hats sold in the shop, and she informs Miss Maples about the poaching and desecration of species that is involved. Miss Maples wants to run the business, giving the customers what they want.

Women disinterested in reading…except the girls and the new generation are more interested. Communication across cities occurs by letter alone…and Gertrude Ederle is the first woman to swim across the English Channel.

Families living in financial ruin….Garnet’s drive to accomplish something other than marrying into money and living a staid, middle class wife’s life…Isabella’s two-year-old sister Sophia apparently aspires to be a singer. A summer of swirling motives and chances skip across the water.

Silhouette of a Sparrow by Molly Beth Griffin, 2012

I like historical fiction a lot because it gives me a sense of what it was like to live in a day and age which I would never be able to experience otherwise. I also love animals and Garnet’s concern for them; we had a parakeet named Molly when I was growing up. My mother also had a pair of crane scissors, as depicted in the book.

I like how each chapter begins with the common and Latin names of different birds. One chapter begins with the Snowy Egret, which I have seen on trail rides in the Bronx.

The front cover illustration on the book is very unique. It features the silhouette of a girl, with a girl and dragonflies in the body of a girl whose head is that of a sparrow. The naturalistic shades of green and brown suit the illustration nicely. A garnet is a hard red gem.


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