Feathertop – the classic story of a pumpkin-headed scarecrow

I am delighted to share this story with you that I have just discovered myself. Perhaps you know it!

Feathertop is a short story by the American author, Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of Rip Van Winkle and The Scarlet Letter. It was published in 1846. It features a cunning New England witch, a pumpkin-headed scarecrow that is enchanted to walk and talk, and a love interest. There have been several movies and cartoons based in part on this story.

I found two versions of oral readings of Feathertop on YouTube, and both are excellent for different reasons.

The first version is only 13 minutes long and was published by Voice of America to help people learn English. It is an abridged version of the story with simplified prose and a slower pace of storytelling. I think this would be an good version to share in a classroom of youngsters, in an adult ELL class, or simply to listen to because it is shorter. I enjoy Shep O’Neal’s slower pace of this reading. I find it relaxing. I listened to this version first, then I went on to the more detailed version, and it increased my comprehension of the story.

The VOA also provides lesson plans for Feathertop.

The second is a dramatic reading of the original, unabridged story presented by Barrow Bookstore. The reading is just over an hour long. The prose is beautiful, elaborate and highly descriptive — but some audiences might find it a bit archaic and difficult to wade through. If you stick with it, however, I think you will enjoy it, as I did. The gifted reader presents an entertaining witch!

Which version do you prefer? What do you think of the story of Feathertop?

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  1. #1 by Lana Cherrington on February 28, 2020 - 11:28 am

    Trying to encourage my 7th graders to read out of their comfort zones. I have always enjoyed this story by one of America’s greatest authors.

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