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Starred Review. Grade 4-6–Old Mr. Pandolfo, feeling that life is getting too difficult–what with troublesome weather, troublesome soldiers, and very troublesome cousins–decides the time has come to create a scarecrow. At least a scarecrow would take care of the birds. Mr. Pandolfo creates a fine scarecrow, indeed, with a large turnip for a head, a broomstick for a backbone, dressed in a tweed suit stuffed with straw. Hidden within it, carefully wrapped in oilskin, is a mysterious letter. But how can this extraordinary creature–who comes to life when struck by a bolt of lightning–fulfill his destiny if he's stuck out in the middle of a field? Enter Jack, an enterprising, intelligent, and practical young orphan fleeing the soldiers who robbed him of home and family. Jack's motto, It could be worse, comes in handy as he agrees to become the servant of the rather egocentric scarecrow, setting off to find excitement and glory. Scarecrow's excellent opinion of himself sets the stage for a variety of silly, yet dangerous, adventures. Run-ins with government officials, soldiers, and unscrupulous business people provide plenty of opportunities for moralizing on the evils of society. In another setting, this story line might seem over-the-top, but Pullman's clever employment of fairy-tale conventions, his superb use of language, and his engaging dialogue make it a wholly satisfying yarn of ridiculous proportions, and Bailey's line drawings provide just the right feeling of long ago that every good fairy tale deserves.–Sharon Grover, Arlington County Department of Libraries, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
*Starred Review* Gr. 4-6. Pullman seems equally at home whether creating high fantasy, Victorian mysteries, or old-fashioned stories in the fairy-tale fashion. Here he excels in the latter mode, creating unique characters to charm young readers. When Scarecrow (reminiscent of his relative in the Wizard of Oz) meets orphan Jack, both the boy and straw man see the wisdom of Jack's attending to the scarecrow as a servant. Together the pair contends with "danger . . . followed by glory . . . leading to sorrow" as promised by a fortune-teller. It's Jack who keeps Scarecrow's head on (literally at times) as his master blithely takes a turn on the boards, becomes an officer in the army, and finds treasure on an island, even as he keeps his inner conviction rolled up on a scroll stuffed in his shirt. The umbrella story about Scarecrow's raison d'etre (to rescue his polluted valley from an evil ruling family) is purposive, but its sharp point is cushioned by the flimflam and fancy pervading the tale. Best of all, however, is the charm exuded by Scarecrow and the boy, two memorable fellows who may seem familiar, but are utterly their own. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
The story line is pretty simple, not what I expected from Philip Pullman.Published 13 months ago by J. Archer
This strange little book is a cross between The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and the Wizard of Oz. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Jane Easterly
I read this to my daughter and we both found it highly amusing. Fast paced story with lots of adventure and laughs.Published 18 months ago by Hilary M.
I thought this was a nice little story. I'm 27 years old but I'm a big Pullman fan so I read this despite the fact that it is probably intended for a younger audience. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Amazon Customer
I loved this book--it reminds me of Roald Dahl's work. I am an older adult (50+) and just picked this up for fun--and it was so enjoyable--a clever, laugh-out loud, old-fashioned... Read morePublished 22 months ago by M. Amani
This is a very entertaining Middle Grade read. I really enjoyed Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" series and "Sally Lockhart" books, so I do like his writing style and his... Read morePublished on March 12, 2013 by Charlene
This review is for the audio book read by Graeme Malcolm.
When I first checked out the book I thought it might be too scary for my children (ages 9, 6, and 4) and told... Read more
Good enough tale for young'ens with morals aplenty. Just not at the level of the "Dark Materials" novels which entertain not only young people, but provoke thought in adults as... Read morePublished on January 7, 2010 by Jeff
This is a funny and light hearted adventure that parents and kids could enjoy reading together (or separately, for that matter).Published on June 9, 2009 by Bears