HOMES CHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Scarecrow: A Story That Teaches in This World You Don’t Have to Be Alone
Author: Max Elliot Anderson
Publisher: Lighthouse Christian Publishing, 2012
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 8-13
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by: Wayne S. Walker
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Anderson, Max Elliot. The Scarecrow: A Story That Teaches in This World You Don’t Have to Be Alone (published in 2012 by Lighthouse Christian Publishing, SAN 257-4330, 5531 Dufferin Dr., Savage, MN 55378). How can a boy who has been moved away from his home in the city to live with his uncle and aunt way out in the country find a friend? Eleven-year-old William J. (Billy) Brightman lives in a very rough part of the city with his mom and eight-year-old sister Becky. His dad had left the family a long time ago, and his mother drinks too much. Billy keeps having a dream about being frightened by a mean scarecrow. One day his mother accidentally starts a fire in their house, and the judge says that Billy and his sister have to stay somewhere else for a while. Becky is sent to live with distant relatives in another state while Billy is sent to a farm to live with his Uncle Jim and Aunt Ruth.
At first, Billy doesn’t like it on the farm and tries to be as uncommunicative as possible. But Uncle Jim and Aunt Ruth are very nice to him. He learns to help with the work gathering eggs, feeding the animals, raking leaves, stacking hay, and picking vegetables from the garden. There are a tire swing on a tree and some newborn kittens in the barn to play with. His uncle and aunt also take Billy to church with them. However, he misses Becky and has no other friends. Then he finds that there’s a scarecrow on the farm—just like the one in his dreams! But this is a nice scarecrow. He winks, talks to Billy, and even gets down off his post to play with him. Together they explore the farm, work in the barn, and go fishing. Is this real, or is Billy just pretending to have a make-believe friend? And who does Billy learn is a friend who sticks closer than a brother?
Author Max Elliot Anderson has done it again. Billy is a boy who has experienced some significant problems in his short life, through no fault of his own, but he learns, with the assistance of his wise uncle and loving aunt, the very best way to deal with his situation. Billy makes some mistakes along the way, but he corrects them and determines to do better. It is good for youngsters to read stories about taking responsibility and overcoming difficulties. All children will like The Scarecrow, but I think that it will be especially meaningful for hurting children in difficult home situations because they will be able immediately to identify with Billy and his life with its struggles. To be honest, I’ve never read a Max Elliot Anderson book that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy, and this one is no different. It gets a high five from me.