‘Greedy Sparrow: An Armenian Tale’ Conveys Lessons for All Ages

An Armenian folktale retold by Armenian American writer Lucine Kasbarian and illustrated by Moscow-based artist Maria Zaikina debuts with Marshall Cavendish Children’s Publishers in April 2011.

An Armenian folktale retold by Armenian American writer Lucine Kasbarian and illustrated by Moscow-based artist Maria Zaikina debuts with Marshall Cavendish Children’s Publishers in April 2011.

The Greedy Sparrow: An Armenian Tale is from the ancient Armenian oral tradition and culture, which was nearly obliterated during the Turkish genocide of the Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks in 1915. The author learned the tale from her father, editor and columnist C.K. Garabed, who would recite it to her at bedtime. He had learned it from his own grandmother, a celebrated storyteller from the Old Country. The tale was first put to paper by Armenian poet Hovhannes Toumanian at the turn of the 20th century.

The Greedy Sparrow is the first time this tale has been presented in the English language as a children’s picture book. The story begins in old Armenia with a sparrow who catches a thorn in his foot. As he asks for help, he sets off an intriguing cycle of action that transports him through the Armenian countryside, encountering people engaged in traditional folkways. The Greedy Sparrow ends with a surprising twist and conveys moral messages about greed, selfishness, and using one’s judgment. To address the ethical and human components of the tale, a discussion and activity guide will be available on the author’s website, www.lucinekasbarian.com.

Though intended for readers ages 4 through 8, noted Sesame Street host and storyteller Bob McGrath says that “The Greedy Sparrow is actually for everyone. It’s clever and humorous, and the wonderful illustrations not only add color but also truly interpret the story line.” The fable is lavishly illustrated with authentic depictions of Armenian folk traditions by Zaikina, who was selected to illustrate The Greedy Sparrow after the author and publisher viewed her Armenian folk animations on YouTube (www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJ5NAXT9pLs&feature=player_embedded).

Author Kasbarian is a syndicated journalist and director-on-leave from Progressive Book Publicity. A graduate of the NYU journalism program, she is the former director of publicity for Red Wheel, Weiser and Conari Press, and previously was publicity and marketing manager at Hearst Books. Kasbarian is also the author of Armenia: A Rugged Land, an Enduring People (Dillon Press/Simon & Schuster, 1998) and was a contributing editor for Cobblestone magazine’s special issue on the Armenian Americans (Carus Publishing, 2000). The granddaughter of Armenian Genocide survivors, Kasbarian has held leadership positions in the Armenian Youth Federation and the Land & Culture Organization. Among other organizations, she belongs to the National Writer’s Union, the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, and the Women’s National Book Association.

The author and her husband, journalist David Boyajian, live in Belmont, Mass. and Teaneck, N.J. For the production of The Greedy Sparrow, the author served as the model for the illustrator’s rendering of the bride’s features. The bride’s wedding costume in the book bears a strong resemblance to that of the author’s own folkloric bridal gown.

The Greedy Sparrow is a 32-page illustrated hardcover book, available by mid-March 2011 through brick-and-mortar and online booksellers, as well as through the publisher for $17.99 U.S., $20.95 Canada. To order through the publisher, contact Janet Kelly (Order Department, Marshall Cavendish Corp., 99 White Plains Rd., Tarrytown, NY 10591; (800) 821-9881 x 325; jkelly@marshallcavendish.com).

To learn more, visit www.marshallcavendish.us/kids.


  1. I”ve already pre-ordered several  copies of this book to give as gifts, and I am looking forward to keeping one for myself as well!  Kudos to the author and illustrator for undertaking this praiseworthy project! 

  2. I strongly urge every Armenian family to purchase a copy of this book, because its story line comprehensively depicts the mindset, weaknesses, cleverness and tenacity of the Armenian people and includes very original, high-quality Armenian illustrations.

  3. I was lucky enough to have peaked at this book at a friend’s house. I am happy to share that this is one the best Armenian children’s book I have seen. Ms Kasbarian spared no detail in order to evoke the authentic Armenian experience.

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