Feathertop: Based on the Tale by Nathaniel Hawthorne

Overview

Long ago in New England, a powerful witch made a scarecrow named Feathertop out of old scraps and, with a puff of magic, brought him to life. She mischievously sent Feathertop to woo Polly Gookin, and the two fell in love. Could love transform Feathertop from a patchwork of sticks into a real human?

When a witch creates a scarecrow and uses him to play a joke on the local judge, the judge's daughter falls in love with the scarecrow....

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Overview

Long ago in New England, a powerful witch made a scarecrow named Feathertop out of old scraps and, with a puff of magic, brought him to life. She mischievously sent Feathertop to woo Polly Gookin, and the two fell in love. Could love transform Feathertop from a patchwork of sticks into a real human?

When a witch creates a scarecrow and uses him to play a joke on the local judge, the judge's daughter falls in love with the scarecrow.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Portions of Nathaniel Hawthorne's short story ``Feathertop: A Moralized Legend'' have been, of necessity, greatly altered for this picture book adaptation. Robert San Souci's retelling, however, preserves a surprising amount of drama--even in this truncated form, the plight of the scarecrow who loves a mortal girl retains its affecting overtones. Mother Rigby, ``one of the most powerful witches in early New England,'' transforms her ragtag scarecrow into a flesh-and-blood man and sets out to humiliate her antagonist, Judge Gookin, by having the manikin woo the judge's daughter. As might be expected--and hoped for--in a work for this age group, true love wins out, and even Mother Rigby seems a trifle calmer at book's end. Brisk pacing, a believable conflict and even a certain amount of depth are skillful substitutions for the original story's disturbing psychological issues. Daniel San Souci's handsome watercolors, in pinks, plums and browns, effectively capture the garb and architectural details of mid-18th-century New England; more than that, they imbue the story's small cast with the child appeal of a solid folktale. Though literary purists may object to this abridgement, youngsters will relish cheering for hero and heroine and booing a nasty witch indeed. Ages 6-10. (Oct.)
Publishers Weekly
PW said that this retelling of the plight of a scarecrow who loves a mortal girl "preserves a surprising amount of drama and retains its affecting overtones." Ages 7-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Melissa J. Rickey
When Mother Rigby, a colonial New England witch, creates a scarecrow for her garden, she calls on her witchcraft to assemble the pieces and then imbues her creature with human characteristics and the name Feathertop. Feathertop takes to his human form and willingly strikes out to falsely woo the village judge's daughter. Once he sees Polly Gookin, Feathertop, who is already "beginning to believe what he only seemed to be," falls in love. When he sees his scarecrow self in the mirror, he realizes his mistake and runs away, breaking his own and Polly's heart. Based on an original tale by Nathanial Hawthorne published in 1852, this book is a stellar period piece with authentic details of the life and times in 1750s Colonial New England. The author's note states that the ending of the original tale was changed slightly to reflect the epigraph. This quote, from one of Hawthorne's notebooks, underlies Feathertop's transformation into a whole human being when he is touched by love and returns it in kind. The bright and realistic watercolor paintings provide a strong grounding for the narrative and finely realized dialogue.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-- Bright orange, purple, and gold color the autumn landscape of a colonial New England town in which a soft-hearted witch and a pumpkin-headed scarecrow play out a drama of magic and romance in this well-told tale. In order to trick Judge Gookin, old Mother Rigby turns her shabbily dressed scarecrow into a handsome gentleman and sends him to woo the judge's daughter as Master Feathertop. Falling truly in love with Polly, he regrets the deception and retreats to his original state as a straw man. But Polly's love is also true, and with the help of Mother Rigby's magic, she changes the ragged scarecrow back to her handsome Feathertop. Adapted from a little known moral tale by Nathaniel Hawthorne, the story has been modernized to bear the contemporary theme of love and its power. The smoothly flowing oral quality of Robert San Souci's text is matched by the interpretation in brilliant colors and lively action of Daniel San Souci's pictures, making Feathertop a highly effective picture book for any season of the year. --Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385420440
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 8/29/1992
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 6 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 11.63 (w) x 10.08 (h) x 0.56 (d)

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