Nov 11, 2007

The Scarecrow and His Servant by Philip Pullman

Before passing away, old Mr. Pandolfo decides to make a scarecrow. He uses a turnip for its head, a broom for its backbone, and an old tweed suit of his to dress it in, and inside it he places a letter wrapped in an oilskin for protection. The scarecrow is placed in a field, and there it could have remained. But one night there is a thunderstorm, and when hit by lightening, the scarecrow comes to life.

A young boy named Jack hears the Scarecrow calling for help, and he ends up becoming his servant. The two travel together, and their adventures include scaring a group of bandits with a ghost story, saving a robin’s nest in the middle of a battle, being marooned on a tropical island, and having to face the Buffalonis, a strong and powerful family who wants to turn the beautiful Spring Valley, the place of the Scarecrow’s birth, into an industrial wasteland.

In this book, Philip Pullman tells another extremely funny and very engaging tale. The characters are very likable – the Scarecrow is fearless but lacks wits; Jack is but a young boy, but he shows a lot of sense and is always getting his master out of trouble. Both are good-natured and kind, and the bonds of friendship that unite them are strong ones. The story has a few separate threads that come together marvellously at the end, in a happy but not sugar-coated resolution. The book’s mood is that of a fairy tale, and the humour is simply remarkable.

Phillip Pullman uses this warm tale to poke fun at the silliness of the things that surround us, things that we often accept because that's the way they’ve always been – the senselessness of war, the absurdity of the way justice sometimes works, or fails to work, the tyranny of the rich and powerful over those with less influence.

This is a story that can be enjoyed by adults and children alike. But if you want to make sure this is for you, click here to read the first chapter at the author’s website.


  1. You know, I love your blog, Nymeth :) This is yet another example of a book that I've never heard of that sounds like something I'd love. I'll keep a look out for this one...but who knows where I'll find the time to read it...probably not any time soon!

  2. I just got His Dark Materials Trilogy.. I have a feeling I will like it, and if I do I'm sure this will go on the wish list!

  3. Seems like you are really into Pullman at the moment. This sounds really fun. I just got my copy of I Was a Rat! in the post today which I am looking forward to.

  4. ah... from the sound of this and "i was a rat" it sounds as if pullman tells quite a mean fairy tale!

  5. I agree with Chris!! I always find reviews for books here that I have never even heard of!! And you always make them sound so good!!

    I'm probably one of the few people that hasn't even read the Dark Materials books! I need to get cracking since the Golden Compass Movie comes out soon!

  6. Chris: Aww, thank you :) You do need to give Pullman a try when you get the chance - I think you'd like him!

    Deslily: I hope you do like it! It's my all-time favourite fantasy series. His other books are written in a completely different style, though. Both are good, but very different!

    Rhinoa: My local library has a whole shelf devoted to Pullman... of course I couldn't resist bringing home some of the books I haven't read. I can't wait to see what you think of I Was a Rat!

    Jean Pierre: It was only recently that I discovered that he has quite a few fairy tale books... these two, Clockword, The Firework Maker's Daughter...they are really good!

    Stephanie: You do need to read HDM! I had almost forgotten that the movie was coming soon. I don't quite know what to expect to be honest. But I hope it's good.

  7. I haven't read this one either - I keep seeing it at the library and thinking, I must get to that one soon. I read the Jewel in the Smoke books last year and enjoyed them, especially the first one. He is a wonderful storyteller!

  8. Darla, you must get to it soon indeed! I think you'll really enjoy it :)

  9. i was wondering what book to read next have you got any good books i cud get out. I just read the scarecrow and his servant its good but a little young very imaginative =]


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