It’s hard to believe that just one week ago, we were swimming in the neighborhood pool. Summer slipped out the back door, and now we’re back to school and back in the swing of things. Our goggles and beach towels are packed away and in their place are bike helmets and bedazzled backpacks. We’re off! And this year, in lace-up shoes. A giant step forward for kid-kind…
Though autumn isn’t quite here, she sure is thinking about it. Her voice whispers in the cool morning breeze. Her sunny face winks from the pyramid of mums by the grocery store door. She’s in the just-beyond, singing that old familiar song. You know the one. Beautiful, bittersweet, and over before you’re ready for it to be.
A reader who picks up a picture book that wears its autumn on its sleeve is quietly hoping for this - something cozy, something wistful, something dreamy. THE SCARECROW (HARPER, released September 3, 2019) perfectly hits and holds that yearned for note, turning an expected goodbye into a surprising hello. Here’s the pitch-perfect cover…
As a fan of Beth Ferry’s creative titles and the art of sibling illustrating duo The Fan Brothers (Terry Fan and Eric Fan), I have long anticipated what this picture book collaboration might bring. It delivers just what I was seeking: Poetry that’s smooth and melodic. Artwork that’s gentle and sincere. And a heartfelt story about taking a chance on friendship, despite the cost. Here are three things that I love about THE SCARECROW…
A Sense of Place
Just as a scarecrow is anchored to a very particular place, so is this book. The vast emptiness of rural farmland acts a quiet-yet-loud character and costar. Ferry wraps Scarecrow in setting and rich rhyme: Autumn sunshine. Haystacks rolled. Scarecrow guards the fields of gold. The Fan Brothers take Ferry’s active imagery and run with it, far into the distant plains. The art glows. When the sun is shining, its light is felt on every surface, from the waving grain to the shifting clouds above. When it hides, snow and moonlight act as luminary. The result is both gorgeous and sentimental, underscoring the immovable fact that Scarecrow, for better or worse, is fixed to this spot… forever.
A Chance Taken
The text of THE SCARECROW sings a sweet yet melancholy song of Scarecrow’s lonely role in the landscape, and this emotion extends into every illustration. Sometimes we are far from Scarecrow, acutely feeling the distance between him and the creatures of the field. Other times we are up close, reading the emotion on his warm, woven face. Just when readers have accepted the reality of Scarecrow’s limiting position, the immovable… moves. An unlikely friend falls from a tree, prompting Scarecrow to lean into his first-ever chance at friendship. He embraces the moment, and the moment is a sheer delight…
A Character to Root For
Readers will love Scarecrow, who - as you’ve likely gleaned - is not at all scary. His flannel is tidy and carefully stuffed. His round face, bound in golden burlap, bears a tender smile. His eyes are blue and bright. Who could be afraid of such a sweet fellow? Yet his position in the field sends a clear message to the surrounding animals. (No one enters. No one dares.) When one bird breaks the rules, Scarecrow at last becomes known. The hazy filter upon the art gives way to vibrant precision and his face fills the frame, bringing us deeply into his sadness when he realizes that his one-and-only friend must go. From a place so low, the reader must know: Will Scarecrow’s heart soar again?
The story comes to an ending so satisfying that you’ll want to take the journey again, making THE SCARECROW a timeless tale that will surely endure on bookshelves - to be revisited on autumn days when you’re searching to share a snuggled-up feeling with someone you love. Here’s a look inside, set to music… Enjoy! (And see below for a chance to win a signed copy.)
THE SCARECROW is by Beth Ferry, author of STICK AND STONE (HMH), LAND SHARK (Chronicle), PIRATE’S PERFECT PET (Candlewick), A SMALL BLUE WHALE (Knopf), SEALED WITH A KISS (HarperCollins), TEN RULES OF THE BIRTHDAY WISH (G.P. Putnam's Sons), and SQUIRREL’S FAMILY TREE (Scholastic). THE SCARECROW is illustrated by The Fan Brothers, creators of THE NIGHT GARDENER (S&S), THE DARKEST HOUR (Tundra), THE ANTLERED SHIP (S&S), and OCEAN MEETS SKY (S&S).
One lucky reader will win THE SCARECROW, signed by Beth Ferry! Here's how to enter:
*** Win THE SCARECROW ***
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