The Little Scarecrow Boy

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Overview

"Once upon a time in a cornfield there lived a scarecrow and his scarecrow wife and their little scarecrow boy." So begins Margaret Wise Brown's long lost treasure about a little scarecrow boy and the lessons he learns from his scarecrow father every day of the world, until the time he decides to test his knowledge and himself. Published here for the first time as a picture book, The Little Scarecrow Boy is a timeless story about the things children cherish family, home, and their place in the world. Tender and ...
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Overview

"Once upon a time in a cornfield there lived a scarecrow and his scarecrow wife and their little scarecrow boy." So begins Margaret Wise Brown's long lost treasure about a little scarecrow boy and the lessons he learns from his scarecrow father every day of the world, until the time he decides to test his knowledge and himself. Published here for the first time as a picture book, The Little Scarecrow Boy is a timeless story about the things children cherish family, home, and their place in the world. Tender and funny, it celebrates the tradition of passing knowledge from one generation to the next, and the exuberance that comes with reaching one's full potential. Known for his stunning design and breathtaking craftsmanship, Caldecott medal recipient, David Diaz declares an entirely new direction with The Little Scarecrow Boy. He perfectly captures the essence of this all-but-forgotten gem of a story with a bright palette and a remarkably fresh, childlike view of the world.

Author Biography: Margaret Wise Brown's contribution to children's literature is legendary. Her many popular books, including Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, Little Fur Family, and The Big Red Barn, continue to delight young listeners and readers year after year.

Early one morning, a little scarecrow whose father warns him that he is not fierce enough to frighten a crow goes out into the cornfield alone.

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Editorial Reviews

Horn Magazine
David Diaz appropriately lightens his palette for this tale, told with compressed poetry by Brown, of a scarecrow boy who wants more than anything to fill his father's fearsome footsteps. Despite his father's entreaties of "NO / No, little boy. / You can't go. / You're not fierce enough / to scare a crow. / Wait till you grow," the scarecrow boy sneaks into the fields early one morning to try out the scary faces he's been learning from his father. The "first fierce face" doesn't do a thing to the crow, neither does the second, nor the third...but the sixth and final scary face? "Whoa! The old crow flew backwards through the air, feathers flying everywhere..." Of course, the fact that Dad has followed the little scarecrow into the field may just have had something to with his success. This is a clear, strong hymn to toddler independence and parental security, buoyed by big and sunny illustrations in brightly autumnal colors. What a day to be a boy.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Hewing to an earthy palette of cornfield yellows, oranges, and greens, with shades of blue for contrast, Caldecott Medalist Diaz (Smoky Night) makes a dramatic departure, in a winsome interpretation of Brown's previously unpublished tale. In typical Brown fashion, a strong and loving family bond is at the core of the story, which tells of a happy scarecrow trio. "Old man scarecrow" is teaching his son the family business, and although the scarecrow boy is eager to ply his trade, his father tells him repeatedly "No, little boy./ You can't go./ You're not fierce enough/ to scare a crow./ Wait till you grow." But one day the lad can't resist giving his new skills a try, and nearly comes to grief. Not until his sixth attempt, making his fiercest face of all, does he finally drive the crows away from the fields. This warmly evoked coming-of-age tale, marked by repetitive phrasing and even pacing, makes for a superior read-aloud, enhanced by the timeless, leisurely quality in Diaz's watercolor, gouache, and pencil illustrations. The patched look of the scarecrow characters echoes the patchwork of the fields and multicolored corn. With his round head and chubby body, sprouting straw from every sleeve and pocket, the scarecrow boy will enchant young readers; the "faces" he makes are a droll caricature of the kind of grimaces children concoct, as his button eyes strain at their threads, his fingers pull cloth lips back to reveal straw "teeth," and so on. This scarecrow boy may be made of straw, but he's all heart--and so is this picture book.
Publishers Weekly
According to PW, "This scarecrow boy may be made of straw, but he's all heart and so is this picture book." Ages 3-7. (Aug.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Linnea Hendrickson
At first glance, one would never guess that David Diaz illustrated this book. There are no black-outlined, stylized figures, no trademark borders; the colors are so light and translucent, the smiling face on the cover so innocuous, that one might be tempted to pass it by. This would be a mistake. A second look reveals an attention to placement of text, layout of pages, and elements of design that are consistent with Diaz's earlier and very different work. The story, by that "laureate of the nursery," Margaret Wise Brown, has, like the best of Brown's stories, certain felicities of phrase -- "Every day of the world," and "So every day the little scarecrow boy stayed at home all day and just grew." and a certain intriguing ambiguity-Is it really little scarecrow boy's sixth fierce face that scares the crows, or is his father? The lightness of touch, and the silliness of the scary straw faces, combined with Diaz's sure sense of design, as in the spread illustrating "But early in the morning when he sun came up...," with its enormous sun face, overlapping text box, and colorful ears of corn, make this an altogether satisfying work that could become a nursery classic.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1-Diaz provides wonderful illustrations for a story Brown wrote in the 1940s. Little scarecrow boy longs to accompany his father, old man scarecrow, to the cornfields to frighten the crows. Instead, he has to remain home to grow and to practice the terrible facial expressions his father teaches him. Convinced that he has mastered the six fierce faces, he slips out early one morning and confronts a big black crow in the field. These encounters test the youngster's mettle, but he succeeds in frightening the bird, filling his father with pride. Brown's masterful use of repetition and rhythm creates a fine read-aloud story. The warm watercolor illustrations incorporate straw and patchwork to evoke a Midwest summer day in this sunny coming-of-age story.-Kathy Piehl, Mankato State University, MN
Kirkus Reviews
Diaz softens his palette and simplifies his lines for a story from Brown, about growing up and steadfast parental love. The little scarecrow boy practices the frightening faces the old man scarecrow makes daily to keep the crows away, but the child remains at home while the adult goes to work. The boy sneaks into the field and plies his trade, but one scary face after the other fails to keep the crows at bay. The sixth and final face does the trickþbut was the old man scarecrow nearby, helping the neophyte? Children who don't mind the creepy contortions of the scarecrows' fiercest faces will love the repetitions of the text, while the happy oranges, reds, and yellows bring sunshine to every page. The deceptively simple story conveys a powerful and reassuring message.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060262846
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/28/1998
  • Edition description: Illustrate
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 1,404,134
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD760L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.33 (d)

Meet the Author

Few writers have been as attuned to the concerns and emotions of childhood as Margaret Wise Brown (1910-1952). A graduate of Hollins College and the progressive Bank Street College of Education, she combined her literary aspirations with the study of child development. Her unique ability to see the world through a child's eyes is unequaled. Her many classic books continue to delight thousands of young listeners and readers year after year.

Muy pocos escritores de literatura infantil han logrado captar las emociones e inquietudes de la niñez como Margaret Wise Brown (1910-1952). Sus numerosos y ya clásicos libros y grabaciones continúan deleitando a lectores y oyentes de todas las edades.

David Diaz has illustrated numerous award-winning books for children, including smoky night by Eve Bunting, for which he was awarded the Caldecott Medal; The Wanderer by Sharon Creech, which received a Newbery Honor; and Me, Frida by Amy Novesky, a Pura Belpré Honor Award winner. Mr. Diaz lives in Southern California.

Biography

When Margaret Wise Brown began to write for young children, most picture books were written by illustrators, whose training and talents lay mainly in the visual arts. Brown, the author of Goodnight Moon, was the first picture-book author to achieve recognition as a writer, and the first, according to historian Barbara Bader, "to make the writing of picture books an art."

After graduating college in 1932, Brown's first ambition was to write literature for adults; but when she entered a program for student teachers in New York, she was thrilled by the experience of working with young children, and inspired by the program's progressive leader, the education reformer Lucy Sprague Mitchell. Mitchell held that stories for very young children should be grounded in "the here and now" rather than nonsense or fantasy. For children aged two to five, she thought, real experience was magical enough without embellishments.

Few children's authors had attempted to write specifically for so young an audience, but Brown quickly proved herself gifted at the task. She was appointed editor of a new publishing firm devoted to children's books, where she cultivated promising new writers and illustrators, helped develop innovations like the board book, and became, as her biographer Leonard S. Marcus notes, "one of the central figures of a period now considered the golden age of the American picture book."

Though Brown was intensely interested in modernist writers like Gertrude Stein (whom she persuaded to write a children's book, The World Is Round), it was a medieval ballad that provided the inspiration for The Runaway Bunny (1942), illustrated by Clement Hurd. The Runaway Bunny was Brown's first departure from the here-and-now style of writing, and became one of her most popular books.

Goodnight Moon, another collaboration with Hurd, appeared in 1947. The story of a little rabbit's bedtime ritual, its rhythmic litany of familiar objects placed it somewhere between the nursery rhyme and the here-and-now story. At first it was only moderately successful, but its popularity gradually climbed, and by 2000, it was among the top 40 best-selling children's books of all time.

The postwar baby boom helped propel sales of Brown's many picture books, including Two Little Trains (1949) and The Important Book (1949). After the author died in 1952, at the age of 42, many of her unpublished manuscripts were illustrated and made into books, but Brown remains best known for Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny.

More people recognize those titles than recognize the name of their author, but Margaret Wise Brown wouldn't have minded. "It didn't seem important that anyone wrote them," she once said of the books she read as a child. "And it still doesn't seem important. I wish I didn't have ever to sign my long name on the cover of a book and I wish I could write a story that would seem absolutely true to the child who hears it and to myself." For millions of children who have settled down to hear her stories, she did just that.

Good To Know

When Goodnight Moon first appeared, the New York Public Library declined to buy it (an internal reviewer dismissed it as too sentimental). The book sold fairly well until 1953, when sales began to climb, perhaps because of word-of-mouth recommendations by parents. More than 4 million copies have now been sold. The New York Public Library finally placed its first order for the book in 1973.

If you look closely at the bookshelves illustrated in Goodnight Moon, you'll see that one of the little rabbit's books is The Runaway Bunny. One of three framed pictures on the walls shows a scene from the same book.

Brown's death was a stunning and sad surprise. The author had had an emergency appendectomy in France while on a book tour, which was successful; but when she did a can-can kick days later to demonstrate her good health to her doctor, it caused a fatal embolism.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Golden MacDonald, Juniper Sage, Timothy Hay
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 23, 1910
    2. Place of Birth:
      Brooklyn, N.Y.
    1. Date of Death:
      November 13, 1952
    2. Place of Death:
      Nice, France

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Not that bad....not great though

    An interesting story, the colors were nice and the story moved along but its pretty lengthy, not for younger kids. Mine doesn't mind it so much, but he's also not that into scarecrows, I also wondered if the boy got up early to scare crows what were the crows doing before Dad got up?

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    Posted April 15, 2009

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    Posted October 15, 2008

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    Posted April 11, 2009

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