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Take a LOOK INSIDE the book!
Ming-Li looked up and tried to imagine the sky silent, empty of birds. It was a terrible thought. Her country's leader had called sparrows the enemy of the farmers--they were eating too much grain, he said. He announced a great "Sparrow War" to banish them from China, but Ming-Li did not want to chase the birds away. As the people of her village gathered with firecrackers and gongs to scatter the sparrows, Ming-Li held her ears and watched in dismay. The birds were falling from the trees, frightened to death! Ming-Li knew she had to do something--even if she couldn't stop the noise. Quietly, she vowed to save as many sparrows as she could, one by one...

This story is based on actual events from China’s Sparrow War in 1958. The citizens of China were told to beat drums and ignite firecrackers for three days—literally scaring the birds to death, to prevent them from eating the farmer’s crops. One child, Ming-Li saves seven sparrows and hides them from her village. When locusts and worms eat all the crops—because the bugs and insects no longer have natural enemies—there is a famine. Ming-Li’s secret is able to save her village.

Author Biography: learn more about Sara Pennypacker from Sara Pennypacker.

Author, Sara Pennypacker tells kids about her writing process:

Sara Pennypacker author video on her Clementine books

Illustrator web site: Yoko Tanaka

bluebonnet_clipart.gif Texas Bluebonnet Literature Activities:

Learn more about China's Sparrow War Explore this research website that explains about Chinese leader, Mao tse Tung's "pest control campaign" to eradicate tree sparrows who were being blamed for eating the field crops.

Learn about Food Chains
Excellent resource from Mr. Nussbaum

Map a Food Chain Activity: Examine where you live and create a diagram of a food chain.
Try using this Texas Food Webs site to guide you (Science-class.net) Multiple resource information links about plants and animals in your region.

Food Chain Lesson Plan-
"The Chain Gang" Legacy Ecology Lesson Plan (grades 3-5)
Food Chain Review page Food Chain reproducible page (seen below- source Legacy, Inc.)


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bluebonnet_clipart.gifTexas Bluebonnet Literature Connections:

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Crinkleroot's Guide to Knowing the Birds. by Jim Arnosky
Simon & Schuster, 1992. 32 p. Ages 4-10
ISBN: 0027058573
Woodsman Crinkleroot takes children on a bird walk through the forest, showing them how to use binoculars, recognize and imitate bird songs, identify birds, and attract birds to their backyards.
This is a beautifully detailed informational picture book of birds is a perfect teaching book.
Create a stick puppet of Crinkleroot and have him lead children on a nature exploration to discover the types of birds within your own community.
Try out some of Crinkleroot's "sure ways to attract" a bird on page 29 and see what type of birds come calling.