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The Little Scarecrow Boy by Margaret Wise Brown, Illustrated by David DiazJoanna Cotler Books, 1998.
Picture Book, 30 pages
Reading Level: Ages 3-7
The Little Scarecrow Boy is a sunny, happy though posthumous gift from beloved author, Margaret Wise Brown, whom you no doubt grew to cherish when you first read or shared reading Goodnight Moon. Although the author died in 1952, Ms. Brown left a rich inheritance of children's books for us to enjoy. Here for the first time, The Little Scarecrow Boy reaches the bookshelves of our favorite bookstore as a picture book.
The theme of this story is one that is very important to children: why can't I do the important things that grownups do? The little scarecrow boy wants to go out and frighten away crows the way his father does every day. His father has spent much time in teaching him how to make scary faces to frighten the birds away, and the little scarecrow boy has practiced his craft well. The author couches the father's negative answer in a rhyme that is repeated over and over much like the answers of the grownup world must seem to young children. Finally, one day the little scarecrow boy sneaks out of the house early in the morning to try to live out his dream of frightening away crows. For a while it appears as if he may fail because the crows appear to be more menacing than he is. Finally on the last try of his most fierce face, the little scarecrow boy is successful and fortunately his father is there to witness his triumph . The lesson of trying hard to learn the lessons that grownups are trying to pass down is well illustrated. Success follows hard work and courage.
The art of David Diaz gives The Little Scarecrow Boy the perfect impact for this bright and sunny tale. The perspective of the drawings makes the reader feel like a child looking up at a world that is much taller than he is. Brilliant oranges and yellows against a pale blue sky give a pleasant intensity to the illustrations. On this palette of a brilliant and happy landscape Mr. Diaz gives us the black crows sweeping down across the page with menacing open beaks. The last picture in the book leaves us with a beautiful planet covered with corn and guarded by a grown up scarecrow ready to protect the world from all crows and other dangers.
The Little Scarecrow Boy is sure to leave a pleasant impression and a strong lesson on all young readers.
--Sarah Reaves White
The Pig Who Wished by Joyce Dunbar, Illustrated by Selina YoungDK Publishing, April 1999.
Picture Book, 24 pages
Reading Level: Baby-Preschool
Wishes that come true are a favorite thought for children, and an engaging pig who would like to have a more interesting and exciting life is a character young readers can like immediately. The device for granting all these lovely wishes is a magic acorn that the pig swallows. As her wishes begin to come true the pig adds more and more wishes, and each time it seems that no matter how outrageous the wish, "nobody minded one bit!" All children would love to jump on the bed, and this particular activity is universally frowned upon by parents. So of course when the pig wishes that she, the baby and the lady from the tea shop as well as the baby's mommy and daddy could all jump on the bed disaster is sure to follow. In the mighty bounce that follows not only does the pig hiccup out the magic acorn, but this also causes a hole in the floor and the parents minded a lot! All of course ends well, because the pig and the baby did not mind at all.
As a vehicle for this happy little tale, illustrator, Selina Young carries us along with happy, whimsical drawings filled with many amusing details. When the pig invites her two little brothers to join her and the baby in jumping on the bed the page is filled with joyful faces that are sure to delight any child who would like to do the same.
The Pig Who Wished is a sturdy book with thick pages that will be easy for small hands to turn and illustrations that will delight young senses of humor.
--Sarah Reaves White
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