Personification in The Scarebird

Personification in The Scarebird

If you’re using picture books to introduce figurative language, you might want to look at The Scarebird, by Sid Fleischman, when you get ready to teach personification.  Although the readers know that the scarecrow is just a scarecrow, the main character, Lonesome John, interacts with it as if it were human.  In fact, most of the personification in this story comes directly from Lonesome John.

It starts when Lonesome John sees the scarebird in a high wind “holding his ground.”  The scarebird is described as “him,” not “it,” at this point.  Lonesome John takes him new clothes to suit the weather. He keeps talking to the scarebird, and even plays a game of checkers, moving the pieces for both of them.

Then, when a man comes to work on the farm as a hired hand, John no longer feels comfortable talking to the scarecrow.  He takes back some of the good clothes he’s given to the scarecrow for the man to use.  He talks to the hired hand now instead of to the scarecrow, and at the end of the story, Lonesome John asks the man if he would like to play a game of checkers.

The illustrations play a big part in the personification in The Scarebird.  At first, it looks like a normal scarecrow in the field.  Then, it takes on a more human look as John treats it like a person.  And in the final scene, when John has a real human to talk to, the scarecrow once again looks like just a scarecrow in a field.

Kids can find examples in the text such as John giving the scarebird a hat to protect him from the sun and playing checkers with him.    In the illustrations, they can notice the scarebird changing his facial expression and his position.

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