About the Holiday
The first Saturday in July is reserved for Build a Scarecrow Day. Today, community members gather together and create scarecrows to ward off birds that would like nothing more than to nibble at ripening crops. Although the celebration is traditionally an American holiday, it is being embraced by other areas of the world, such as Great Britain, which has joined in the fun since 1990.
The Scarecrow’s Hat
By Ken Brown
Chicken was quite taken with Scarecrow’s straw hat. In fact, she would have liked it for herself. When she complimented Scarecrow on his hat, he agreed that it was nice, but not as handy as a walking stick for his tired arms. “‘I’d love a walking stick to lean on. I’d swap my hat for a walking stick any day.’” Hmmm, thought chicken, she just happened to know someone who had such a stick.
She went to see her friend Badger who was struggling to prop open his door with a cane. When Chicken complimented Badger on the cane, he agreed, but said he’d really prefer a ribbon to tie his door open. Chicken thought she could help. She found Crow adding a blue ribbon to her nest. Chicken thought the ribbon was very nice, and Crow agreed. But she admitted that she’d rather have some soft wool to line her nest and make it more comfortable. “Now Chicken didn’t have any wool, but she knew someone who did.”
Sheep was covered in wool and said she would be more than happy to trade some of it for a pair of glasses. Her eyes were getting old, and Wolf was always lurking. Chicken nodded and went on her way. When Chicken came calling at Owl’s, she couldn’t help but admire his new glasses. Owl agreed with a yawn, but revealed that he’d rather have a blanket to sleep under because the sun kept him awake. “Now Chicken didn’t have a blanket, but she knew someone who did.”
Donkey’s blanket was very handsome, but it couldn’t help Donkey shoo the flies away from her ears. Her tail was just a bit too short to “‘flick them away. But if I had some long feathers tied to the end of it,’” she explained, “‘I could swat them easily.’” Here was something Chicken did have. “Quick as a flash, Chicken pulled out one, two, three of her longest feathers and tied them to Donkey’s tail.”
Off came Donkey’s blanket, and quick as a wink Chicken took it to Owl. Owl’s old glasses looked splendid on Sheep, and the fluff of wool made Crow cozy. The blue ribbon held Badger’s door nicely, and finally, Chicken “took the walking stick to Scarecrow. With a grateful sigh of relief, he leaned his tired old arms on the stick and gladly swapped it for his battered old hat.
But what could Chicken want with such a big hat? Filled with “fresh, sweet-smelling straw,” it made a perfect nest; and when Duck came around to compliment it, Chicken agreed and said, “‘And I wouldn’t swap it for anything!’”
Ken Brown’s classic story is a fun and gentle mystery that trades on the idea that value is in the eye of the beholder. Clever Chicken is an observant character with plenty of foresight. Young readers will enjoy following her from friend to friend to find exactly what is needed. The repeated phrases invite kids to read along out loud, and the neatly wrapped-up ending will delight them. Brown’s detailed watercolors are masterful depictions of the countryside dappled with sunlight and vibrant with red flowers, golden wheat, and verdant pastures. Children will also enjoy the up-close views of Chicken and her friends.
Ages 4 – 7
Peachtree Publishing, 2011 (paperback) | ISBN 978-1561455706
Build a Scarecrow Day Activity
Silly Scarecrow Coloring Page
Building a scarecrow with old clothes, some twine, and just the right amount of stuffing is creative fun! If you’d like a simpler way to make a scarecrow, enjoy this printable Silly Scarecrow Coloring Page!
Picture Book Review