Two scarecrows are transformed into gardeners in this illustrated children’s book.
Abad and Shamar are unhappy scarecrows in a community garden, wishing they could take care of the vegetables. One evening in June, a giant crow visits the garden and flaps its wings, whooshing the air and frightening Abad and Shamar. However, she reassures them by saying, “Don’t be scared. I came to turn your sadness into joy,” and she frees them from the sticks that restrict their movements. Now human, they soon discover that they can simply ask the garden what it needs, and by working with the community’s children, they finally become gardeners. The names in this simple story derive from the Hebrew words for “to serve” and “to keep,” and the story underscores the responsibilities and joys of keeping a garden (“Yes, I am tired, but it is a good tired,” says Shamar). Children will likely come away with a positive view of gardening and working in their community. Wild (Church on Earth, 2009) nicely evokes the characters’ emotions, including the scarecrows’ nighttime loneliness: “The two wooden sticks held Abad and Shamar between the ground and the dark sky all through the night.” The crow episode, as well, is well-handled and mysterious. The book’s watercolor illustrations are charming and delightful and do an excellent job of helping the story along. Readers may find some aspects confusing, however. For example, the story begins by saying that “[a]lthough Abad and Shamar have been garden smart for many years, there was a time when they were not gardeners” and, presumably, not yet “garden smart”; however, while still scarecrows, they’re hurt “that even though [they] were garden smart, no one ever asked them for advice.” The genders of the main characters are also not clear until halfway through the story, and there are a few typos scattered throughout. Overall, however, these are small flaws in what’s otherwise a lovely book.
A warm, engaging children’s story about community gardening with very appealing illustrations.