Sunday, October 27, 2013
The Lonely Scarecrow
The scarecrow wants friends, but none of the animals will come near him because he looks...scary. He wistfully watches the animals play and wishes they would come near him. As the seasons progress, he feels increasingly lonely and as winter approaches, he loses all hope of making friends.
But with the first snow comes a small miracle. The snow covers the scarecrow and makes him look like a snowman and the animals begin to play happily around him each day. In the back of his mind, the scarecrow worries that when he loses his snowy coat, he will also lose his friends.
As the snow slowly begins to thaw, the animals realize that their new friend is actually "the same scary creature they had feared for so long," but they stay with their new friend.
The Lonely Scarecrow is an appealing book for several reasons. First, the illustrations, by Maggie Kneen, are beautiful (sidenote: I understand that the hardcover edition is embossed). Several of the pages have small detailing around the central image, reminiscent of Jan Brett's work.
I love the language in this book! Too often today's authors simplify the language in children's books TOO MUCH! It needs to stop - can we start a campaign?
When I read Beverly Cleary or E.B. White or Laura Ingalls Wilder to my students, very few of them are able to stay interested and it's not because these authors aren't tremendous. I think it's because children don't have enough opportunities to develop the vocabulary they are capable of developing so they can't follow the stories without significant adult guidance (and don't get me started on how digital pastimes have ruined their attention spans). Phrases like "the ravaged acres of mud," "marooned in his golden sea," and "a sly breeze that stole the leaves from the trees," should be the rule rather than the exception.
Finally, I appreciate the moral(s) of the story. Appearances can be deceiving, don't judge a book by it's cover, everyone deserves a chance, all of these adages (and more) about friendship and acceptance are wonderfully illustrated in this story.
The Lonely Scarecrow needs to be in your home or classroom library. I hear the hard cover edition has embossed illustrations - I'm salivating! :)