FANTASY & Historical BOOKS FOR CHILDREN, Mid Grade.,

10/8/11

MERLE SQUIRRELAND THE SCARECROW

graphic taken from
  http://akidsheart.com/holidays/thanks/tclip1.htm


MERLE SQUIRREL
AND THE SCARECROW
By
M. C. Arvanitis

Merle Squirrel looked all over the farm for a place to hide his acorns he had collected for the cold winter days ahead. He needed a place where no one could find them. He looked in the corncrib. He looked in the hole in the cottonwood tree. Another squirrel had taken that spot. He looked in the old worn out pail lying in the trash heap. That would not be a good place to hide acorns for the winter. Whereever he looked either another squirrel had claimed the space or it would not be safe enough to hide his acorns.
He wished he had started earlier but he had been so busy learning to jump from one branch to the other that he had forgotten that Squirrels were supposed to store acorns for their winter food. So now here he was with a pile of acorns and no place to store them. He looked at the sky. It would be winter soon and if she left the acorns on the ground the snow would cover them.
He continued to search. Each day brought him closer to winter. He was getting desperate. Then he spied a strange looking object standing in Farmer Ann’s cornfield. It had a wide brimmed hat, arms that stretched straight out, a large jacket and baggy pants flopping in the wind. He jumped on the arm of this thing to see it closer. The head was a pumpkin with a face traced upon it. Why this must be the new scarecrow, the one that Farmer Ann made each fall to scare away the crows,” he thought.
He greeted it, "Hello, scarecrow”. The scarecrow didn't answer.
"Guess you don't feel like being friendly, huh?”
No answer. Merle was about to jump to the ground when he noticed the scarecrow's jacket pockets. They were wide and deep and no one would ever think of looking in them for acorns.
"Say, could I hide my acorns in your pockets for the winter?" he asked.
The scarecrow didn't answer.
"Is that a yes or a no?"
Still no answer.
"Well, than, I'll consider it a yes."
Quickly Merle ran to the oak tree where he had left his pile of acorns. All that day he carried the acorns in his mouth and placed them in the scarecrow's pockets.
When he finally had the pile of acorns stored the scarecrows pockets, he climbed back onto its arm and look into the scarecrow's pumpkin face.
"Thank you for letting me store my acorns in your coat pockets. I am going to take a short winter nap now but when I wake I will be hungry. They will taste very good when the snow covers the ground and there is nothing else to eat. If you get hungry you may have a few."
Merle climbed up to his winter’s nest in the oak tree. Just as he settled down for the winter he saw a big black crow fly near. The scarecrow waved its coat sleeves and the crow flew away. “Good,” he thought. The Scarecrow will keep my acorns safe.
Early in the spring, Merle’s tummy began to growl. It rumbled so loudly that it woke him. He woke up very hungry, but he didn't worry. He knew where to find some acorns.
Quickly he jumped to the scarecrow's arm. "I've come to get my acorns,” he said.
The scarecrow didn't answer.
"Thanks for looking after them, anyway."
Merle reached his paw into the pocket. The pocket was empty.
"Well, I did say you could eat a few, I guess."
He reached into the other pocket. That pocket was also empty. Merle jumped on the scarecrow's arm. "Did you eat all my acorns?”
The scarecrow didn't say anything, but Merle noticed that its face was sort of puffy.
"You did eat my acorns. I said you could eat a few. I didn't say you could eat all of them." He jumped up and down in anger.
At that moment the big black crow zoomed down to reach its beak inside the scarecrow's pocket. It reached to the bottom but came up empty. It tried the other pocket and finally flew away with a loud caw coming from its empty beaked
"So it was the crows that ate my acorns. Oh dear, I'm so hungry. I'll starve before the new acorns are ready for dropping." Merle started to cry.
The scarecrow's jacket moved back and forth in the breeze. But wait, its pumpkin head was moving too. It shook so hard that the hat fell off. Merle jumped to the lowest branch in fright. He looked down at the scarecrow’s head. He saw a big hole in top of the pumpkin where Farmer Ann had removed the seeds to carve the eyes and nose and mouth. She looked again. The head wasn't empty. It was full of acorns. His acorns. 
"You saved my acorns from the crows. Thank you. Thank you so much!" Merle jumped back to the scarecrows shoulders and planted a big kiss on the pumpkin’s cheek. The scarecrow said nothing but if you were watching very closely you could see the mouth curve up into a smile.
Merle climbed on the pumpkin head and contentedly ate his fill. He wasn't going to starve after all.
 Every fall Farmer Ann gave the scarecrow a new pumpkin head. And every fall Merle Squirrel stored her winter supply of acorns inside the scarecrow head--where the big black crows could not get them.
---------------------------------------