cover image The Scarecrows' Wedding

The Scarecrows' Wedding

Julia Donaldson, illus. by Axel Scheffler. . Scholastic/Levine, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-545-72606-1

Scarecrows Betty O'Barley and Harry O'Hay are getting married, and it promises to be an endearingly DIY affair, requiring only "A dress of white feathers/ a necklace of shells/ Lots of pink flowers/ two rings and some bells." But what seems to be an innocuous wedding planning story, with lots of cute farm animal friends eagerly helping the happy couple, takes a dark turn when Harry goes missing while searching for flowers. His scarecrow replacement is a cigar-smoking, esteem-crushing ("You're really quite pretty, apart from your hair") scarecrow, aptly named Reginald Rake, who tries to woo Betty (and then inadvertently sets her on fire). Donaldson and Scheffler (Superworm) are in sync as ever, from the simple rhymes that move the story forward at a fast clip to an expressive cast (even the grasshoppers seem to have rich inner life) and a dastardly villain, who readers will be glad to see depart. The only downside is the story's shopworn path to its happy ending, with Betty as a hapless damsel in distress and Harry as her fortuitously reappearing knight in tattered garments. Ages 4%E2%80%938. (July)