The Scarecrow and the Spider seems the perfect title for autumn, but it has very little to do with the season. This story, written and illustrated by Todd Aaron Smith, tells how two "scary" creatures discover that God gives us friends just when we need them.
Benny can't understand why he has no friends until one day when he sees his own frightening reflection in a pond. He wonders why he was "made to be so different." Later he discovers a beautiful spider web and watches with fascination as the spider does her work. When a bird comes to eat the spider, Benny does the only thing he knows he's good at: he scares the bird away! With a dance the spider shouts "I knew God was watching out for me!" She goes on to explain how God is the best kind of friend. "Everywhere you go and in everything you do, God is there -- even when you feel all alone!" Benny and the spider rejoice in this new friendship with each other and God. Neither has had many friends because they always seem to scare others away. Their conversation is cut short when three bully boys approach. They try to throw Benny in the pond. Now it's Spider's turn to be the hero. She races onto the hand of one of the boys who then screams runs away. Benny and the spider decide one of the ways God takes care of us is by giving us friends. "Friends share things [and] watch out for each other too."
The illustrations are comic book-ish with heavy black outlines and vibrant colors. The characters are quite expressive.
What I Like: The message is great. This book teaches the value of friends and God's provision in a wonderfully tangible way. I also like having an autumn-ish book that has nothing to do with Halloween.
What I Dislike: The last picture shows the scarecrow in silhouette, a clear reference to the cross. However, this message is never actually given. It's a beautiful picture, but the connection isn't made. I wish it had been. Also, the story is long for this age range, even repetitive in a couple spots.
Overall Rating: Good.
Age Appeal: 3-5
Publisher Info: Thomas Nelson, 2005; ISBN: 1400305500; Hardback; $9.99
This title is also available as a Boardbook: Thomas Nelson, 2007; ISBN: 1400311373; $7.99
Special Info: See our reviews of other books by this author.