From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 1–Despite the pairing of formidable talents, this book will likely have a limited audience. The purposeful plot is driven by its message: a scarecrow that experiences the freedom of a wind-blown night decides to go back to his post (literally) after witnessing the farm boy on his knees, praying for the straw man’s success in guarding the crops. There is little action, with the exception of for the protagonist breezing along past a dimly lit tractor, weathered barn, and cows at rest. Each of Ibatoulline’s gouache and watercolor scenes is technically brilliant and atmospheric, but there’s a disconnect with the sequencing and passage of time. Opening pages depict the corn silhouetted against a sky that may be pink at the horizon and hazy blue on the upper borders of the spreads (twilight?). Subsequent spreads are a mixture of deeper blues, then a return to pink light, a misty gray, rose again, and after all almost turquoise; the effect is disconcerting. The sentimentality climaxes when the scarecrow peers through the darkness into the boy’s bedroom, which is drenched in an orange glow. Yolen’s unremarkable poetry reads: The scarecrow heard/With painted ears,/And wept a pail/Of painted tears. Adults may find this story of faith and duty uplifting, but kids will prefer the nocturnal farm adventures found in Bill Martin and John Archambault’s Barn Dance! (Holt, 1986).–Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
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About the Author
Jane Yolen is an award-winning creator who has written more than 200 books for children, including the bestseller How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? and the 1988 Caldecott Medal winner Owl Moon. She is known for her beautiful poetry and has even been called “the Hans Christian Anderson of The united states” (Newsweek). She lives in Hatfield, Massachusetts. Visit her at JaneYolen.com.
Bagram Ibatoulline was once born in Russia and educated at the Moscow State Academic Art Institute. His first book was once Philip Booth’s Crossing, named a 2001 Best Book by Publishers Weekly. He is best known for his books with Kate di Camillo, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, and Great Joy. Bagram lives in Gouldsboro, Pennsylvania.
Jane Yolen introduces us to the fickle scarecrow, who decides to leave his station and dance away the fall night. He leaps through the fields until he reaches the farmhouse, where he sees a small light in the window. Inside, a boy is saying his prayers, and he offers up a special prayer for the corn with a view to be harvested in the morning. Humbled, the scarecrow knows what he has to do: He returns to the field and watches over the corn as only he can. Masterfully told, with illustrations by award winner Bagram Ibatoulline, this book has all of the makings of a new classic.