Two scarecrows, Betty O'Barely and Harry O'Hay, are planning the perfect wedding. But wicked scarecrow Reginald Rake has other ideas and almost ruins their special day. Harry must become a hero before he and Betty can have the wedding of their dreams.
NOTE: Originally reviewed in 2014 as a hardcover, the 2015 reviews are for the softcover edition.
We are big fans of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's work. My five year old had been reading The Gruffalo (probably their most famous work) in her class last week. This prompted us to dig out all their books that we own. The pile was quite sizable. We were delighted to see that The Scarecrows' Wedding was available for review. We had borrowed it from the library in the past and enjoyed it but never purchased our own copy.
The first time reading this I did feel like I didn't get the flow of it. There is a rhythm and rhyme to the words that comes with reading it accurately and confidently. Each subsequent reading became increasingly better. The children picked up on the repetition and rhyme and were joining in. As with all of Julia's writing I found myself reflecting on how clever she is to think up an interesting story line and write it so poetically.
The children really loved the book and I have been asked to read it most nights in the fortnight we have had it in our home. I also do home-based childcare and the preschoolers have been requesting it too. Needless to say I can read it without looking at the words now. Thankfully it is not a story I tire of and will happily read it to them.
Axel has a distinctive drawing style which we are very familiar with. He has a way of making his characters come to life. Together with the words I can really see the scarecrows dancing around and feel the atmosphere of the wedding. The Scarecrows' Wedding is a story of love, resourcefulness and teamwork which will be cherished on my bookshelf for many years.
We are big fans of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler at our house. We own six of their books and generally they are read and read until they are falling to pieces. They are all very well loved tomes of loveliness. So we were excited to come across a new story with new characters to love.
In the Scarecrows' Wedding we meet Betty and Harry who meet in a field and fall in love. They decide to be married and they make a list of things they need to have a wedding. The story goes along, with them making a few friends and completing their list. Then, because a story like this needs a bit of a villain, along comes Reginald. He is quite a lot more dapper and seems worldly than Harry, but he is no gentleman. He is also not as smart as he thinks he is.
Scheffler brings his magic to this tale with beautiful illustrations. He always fills the page with so much activity, that you find yourself pouring over the pages trying to take everything in. This is how we found reading this book. We would stop for long periods, pointing out all that we could see. Even on the second reading, new things would show themselves.
As for the story, it has a similar beat to their other works. There are pieces of the prose that repeat over the course of the book too, tying it together and giving the children something to chant with me as we read together. I think for me, the story didn't quite capture my imagination, as it did for my kids. The wedding and the list of things, seemed more important to the characters than anything else. While I know, having been a bride, that this is often the case I felt like the importance of the relationship and the "after the wedding" stuff needed a bit more focus. Also I think if I was a smoker I might have been a bit offended by one page of the book.
That said, my kids really liked this book and it has been getting a thorough reading. It also allowed me to talk to my eldest in particular about weddings and relationships and the important stuff. So, even if I felt the story didn't quite sit right with me, we still took something positive from it.
I was a big Worzel Gummidge fan growing up so when I saw the cover of The Scarecrows Wedding it instantly took me back to the Worzel days. The cover of this book instantly grabbed me. It is so bright and glossy and colourful. I find myself running my hand over the cover as this really does just call to be picked up. My copy is hard cover and the dust jacket is printed inside and out. It is promoted as a free poster but Miss Three just wants it to be reversed on the book rather than put on her wall. She takes it off the book and will look at it for a long time then put it back on again. I think visually this book really hits the spot with her.
This book is just so captivating. Alex Scheffer is an amazing illustrator and together with Julia Donaldson they have produced yet another winning story. The illustrations are just so perfect and we all love the scarecrows expressions. The story is very funny but the illustrations are really the icing on the cake.
Miss Three has really taken to this book and we have been reading it every day. She is often to be found just looking at the pictures and "reading" this to herself. At $29 I think this book is fantastic value and is a delightful book that is a definite keeper on our bookshelf. A perfect gift for Christmas and one that will keep your little one entertained for hours.
I have to say straight off the bat that I love this book! I was offered it to review and it firstly appealed as my 6 year old was involved in our wedding less than 2 years ago, so she has some sort of interest in weddings. Plus I love Julia Donaldson's other books and am always keen to read anything of hers. And with Axel Scheffler illustrating as usual, I knew the book would be good.
The book is told is rhyme with lots of humour thrown in. I really don't know how the author does it, but the entire thing is so well thought out and the book reads beautifully. There's the villain of the story who of course doesn't win in the end, but it really holds your interest. My 6 year old was really captivated by this story and was so pleased the 2 scarecrows lived happily ever after.
I have to say though, that this was maybe the first time my daughter had really stumbled across the concept of smoking and I had a little giggle to myself when I saw her pretending to blow smoke rings the next day, just like the villain of the book. But even the book points out that smoking is bad for you, and I'm all for opportunities to talk about these things that come up in life.
I am a childcare teacher and also read this to the children at work. Our 4 year olds particularly enjoyed it, especially as many of them have a real interest in weddings right now. Our younger children were certainly captured by the beautiful illustrations (and the poster inside the cover flap) but the story probably went over some of their heads.
I give this book a perfect score as it has everything you could want in a book - an awesome story, great rhymes, awesome pictures and I'd happily read it over and over again. As this is a hard cover version, it's not a cheap book, but it really is up there with the best children's books around.
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