About the Holiday
There’s still time to celebrate one of the best months of the year—Picture Book Month! If you’re in shopping mode, be sure to put plenty of picture books on your list for the kids in your life. You know what they say—and it’s really true: A book is a gift you can open again and again!
Written by Beth Ferry | Illustrated by The Fan Brothers
Golden autumn has quieted the fields. The hay is rolled and the scarecrow waits for spring. The animals and the crows stand at a distance, afraid of this figure that does his job so well. “He never rests. / He never bends. / He’s never had a single friend, / for all the woodland creatures know / not to mess with old Scarecrow.”
Winter comes with gentle snow, and Scarecrow dreams of “spring…of buds and blooms and things that sing.” When spring dawns with warm sun and green grass, a tiny crow—with a “broken wing?”—“drops from midair” and attracts Scarecrow’s attention. Then Scarecrow does a most surprising thing: “He snaps his pole, / bends down low, / saves the tiny baby crow.” He tucks the baby in the straw near his heart, and as he sleeps and settles in, Scarecrow “sings the sweetest lullaby.”
The baby heals and the two become the best of friends. As the little crow grows, he and Scarecrow “will laugh and wish on stars, forgetting who they really are…” Spring turns to summer, and Scarecrow proudly watches as Crow learns to fly, but with the return of autumn, he knows that Crow must leave. Through late autumn and the frigid winter, Scarecrow slumps on his pole, alone—“Broken heart. Broken pole. Nothing fills the empty hole.” Then with the spring rains, the crow returns with wings wide open and Scarecrow welcomes him with a hug. The crow mends Scarecrow’s broken pole and refreshes his hay and then he says, “‘I’m here to say.’”
Crow and his mate build a nest in the spot where he grew up. Soon, “five small eggs are tucked unseen,” and Scarecrow watches over them for he knows that soon they will hatch baby crows. “And they will love him from the start, and they will grow up in his heart.” Throughout the year, these friends and more keep Scarecrow company and love him so.
In her story of a scarecrow and a baby crow who form a family, Beth Ferry’s gorgeous, lyrical language sweeps readers into Scarecrow’s world and lets them stand with him through the changing seasons and the progression of his transformation from a lonely existence as bleak as winter to a life as bountiful as summer. Ferry’s alternating short, staccato lines and longer, flowing rhythms create an emotional bond between the reader and Scarecrow. With a single sentence, in which Scarecrow and Crow forget “who they really are,” and through her periodic use of future tense, Ferry sparks hope and welcome reassurance for the future—not only for these two characters, but for us all. Crow’s return to raise his own family where he learned love and security and to help the aging Scarecrow is a moving portrayal of home, and the reciprocal devotion between Scarecrow and the crows will bring a tear to readers’ eyes.
Through their softly hued and textured mixed-media illustrations, The Fan Brothers create a tapestry of rural life, with its sometimes generous, sometimes harsh conditions. As autumn turns to winter, Scarecrow is seen from a distance as animals look on, showing the divide in this natural landscape and the fear that rules it. But when a baby crow drops into the scarecrow’s life, he changes the dynamic, as children often do. With this life-changing event, The Fan Brother’s images become brighter, and the gauziness of the first spreads—so effective in depicting the barrier between Scarecrow and the rest of the world—clears. In turns Scarecrow is tender and proud, wistful and overjoyed—images that will tug at adults’ hearts. As Scarecrow once again stands tall and is surrounded by his crow family and the other animals on a sunny fall day, The Fan Brothers bring readers full circle in this story where the seasons of bounty and hardship mirror so well the cycles of life.
A thoughtful and beautifully conceived masterpiece, The Scarecrow is a must for home, classroom, and public libraries.
Ages 4 – 8
HarperCollins, 2019 | ISBN 978-0062475763
Discover more about Beth Ferry and her books on her website.
To learn more about The Fan Brothers, their books, and their art, visit their website.
Picture Book Month Activity
Books on the Move!
Bookmobiles deliver books to people who are homebound or don’t live near a library. This month you can celebrate these little libraries on wheels by making this bookmobile from a recycled box. Make it with the open top up, and you can even use it as a desk organizer!
- Printable Book Shelves and Sign Template
- Cardboard box, 16-oz pasta or other recyclable boxes work well (I used a 5” x 7 ¼ -inch pasta box)
- Small wooden spools or wheels
- X-acto knife (optional)
- Strong glue
- Paint brush
1.Gently pull the box apart at the seam and lie flat with the unprinted side facing up
2. To Make the Awning:
- On one of the wide sides of the box, measure a rectangle 1 inch from the top of the box, leaving at least 1 ¼ inches at the bottom of the box and 1 ¼ inches on both sides
- With the x-acto knife or scissors cut the sides and bottom of the rectangle, leaving the top uncut
- Paint the top and underside of the awning (if you want to make stripes on the awning lay strips of tape side by side across the awning. Remove every other strip of tape. Paint the open stripes one color of paint. When the paint dries replace the tape over the paint and remove the tape from the unpainted stripes. Paint those stripes a different color.)
3. Paint the rest of the box on the unprinted side any way you like, let dry
4. Cut the Printable Book Shelf template to fit the size of your window opening, leaving at least a ½ inch margin all around
5. Tape the book shelf to the inside of the window
6. Reconstruct the box, making the original seam an inside flap
7. Glue the flap and sides together
8. If using small spools for wheels, paint them black. Let dry
9. Glue the wheels to the bottom of the box
10, Attach the Bookmobile sign, found on the printable template, above the awning
** To Make a Desk Organizer from the Bookmobile
- Cut an opening in the top of the bookmobile with the x-acto knife or a scissor
You can find The Scarecrow at these booksellers
Picture Book Review