The Scarecrow

Harper/HarperCollins/. Sept. 2019. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062475763.
PreS-Gr 3–Scarecrow has a job to do—guard the field. He’s good at his job. The animals don’t come near. His success is lonely though, until one day a baby crow falls from the sky. Scarecrow must decide whether to guard the field or take pity on the tiny lost bird. Scarecrow’s very human desire for companionship wins out as he gently nestles the baby against his straw heart, starting a journey from solitary custodian to much-loved protector. The story shows that family and friends can be found in unexpected ways and surprising places. While the lyrical text paints a lovely tale (providing examples of alliteration and rhyme), the Fan Brothers’ marvelous illustrations elevate it to something magical. It’s amazing to watch the play of emotions over a simple, painted, burlap face. It’s impossible not to feel despair, longing, and love along with Scarecrow. From the desolate paleness of winter to the pastel palette of spring, the depth of the landscapes help readers feel the changing seasons as the story moves through the year. Mostly, it feels like a wonderful celebration of fall as the glowing warmth of autumn wheat unites the story from its melancholy beginning to its jubilant conclusion.
VERDICT An emotionally impactful exploration of love and loneliness, this is an essential addition to any picture book collection.

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