by Ferry, Beth; Fan, Eric (ILT); Fan, Terry (ILT)

Going against his nature to save a baby crow that has fallen from midair, a lonely scarecrow forges an unlikely friendship that is tested by the changing of the seasons. By the best-selling author of Stick and Stone. 75,000 first printing. Jr Lib Guild. Illustrations.

Summer, fall, winter, spring . . . in every season Scarecrow scares critters away from his field. But when a small, frightened crow falls from the sky, "He snaps his pole, / bends down low, / and saves the tiny baby crow." Tucking it into the straw near his heart, he sings the nestling to sleep. They become loyal friends. In late summer, the crow flies away. Through autumn and winter, Scarecrow sags on his broken pole, but spring brings a happy reunion, as the bird spruces him up, finds a mate, and builds a nest beside his heart, where five eggs hatch into baby crows. The text works well, rolling along in a series of rhymed couplets that help create an emotional connection with the characters, particularly the scarecrow, but avoid sentimentality. Created with pencil and ballpoint as well as digital elements, the impressive double-page illustrations use line, texture, and color with uncommon finesse. The final page shows the contented Scarecrow at the center of an illustration resembling a traditional Peaceable Kingdom scene. A beautifully crafted picture book. Preschool-Grade 2. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character's unlikely friendship. Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: "Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It's all he does. It's all he knows." His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character's lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close -up of the scarecrow's burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution. A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6) Copyright Kirkus 2019 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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