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The Scarecrow and His Servant Paperback – May 8, 2007


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 850L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling; Reprint edition (May 8, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440421306
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440421306
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #642,131 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

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.

From Booklist

*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.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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I read this book to my 8-year old daughter.
Dodd Kazem
This book is a witty, light, easy read - perfect for children or adults who love whimsical reads.
Charlene
The same could be achieved with the Phillip Pullman stories - the work of a master storyteller .
Annette Mwatt

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By H. A. Mollick on November 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is hysterical, poignient, learned, and not being read by kids anywhere. The publisher should be ashamed for not marketing "Scarecrow" well : my local Borders had it in " teen science fiction"! My 10 year old and I had an uproarious time with this book - Pullman is a clever, sharp and taut writer . For those who enjoyed "The Pirates! In an Adventure With Scientists " (another poorly sold book), or maybe the funniest parts of "Hoot",this book is for you - and tell your friends ! Teachers of grades 4-7 need to get on the ball - it isn't just Harry Potter, Captain Underpants, or Kate DeCamilla (at least she 's popular) out there !
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Annette Mwatt on November 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
A delightful, laugh-out-loud read, for children and adults alike. From the wonderful Phillip Pullman .

The scarecrow, lovingly constructed by the ailing farmer - and complete with turnip head - comes to life when struck by lightening. Then his travels start. He meets young Jack - all alone in the world - and says to him :" Here you are, an honest and willing youth and here am I, a Scarecrow of enterprise and talent. What would you say if I offered you the position of my personal servant ? "

Jack accepts - and their adventures begin. A rollicking tale complete with military skirmishes, pirates, lost treasure. A wonderful cast of birds, led by Granny Raven. And the villianous Buffalonis, intent on destroying all that is beautiful in the Scarecrow's true home, Spring Valley.

The story comes to its climactic finale in the courtroom where the Buffalonis plot to deprive the noble scarecrow of Spring Valley. The final chapter will leave you laughing with joy. And renewed appreciation of Phillip Pullman's exceptional talent.

Read the book with an open mind. Do not compare this with the famous Dark Materials trilogy, as some readers inevitably will do. Enjoy it purely as a story. A multi-layered story. Children will enjoy this story on their level. The astute adult reader will gain something more : The courtroom scene with its costumed pomposity and legal terminology " non independentem judgi nogoodi " is a clever broadside at the theatre of the court.

Pullman's use of the English language - and a lexicon of names as rich as J.K.Rowling's - will leave the reader wanting more from this author. I loved the Dark Materials trilogy and all its complexities.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Angela J. Thorpe on October 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Ever since reading Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials", I practically dive at any book he writes and it's been a while since he's written anything, so I did a full swan dive for this book.

"The Scarecrow and His Servant" is purely fairy tale. I never quite believed Lord Scarecrow and Jack could be real (whereas I'm still convinced Lyra and her Daemon are out there somewhere from "His Dark Materials"). It's always a bit of a disappointment to not become so engrossed in a book, the characters become real. However, that's about the only disappointment.

Lord Scarecrow and his turnip head (though I kept picturing him as the scarecrow from "The Wizard of Oz") is anxious to seek his fortune and rescue his birthplace from being polluted. On their tail is a lawyer working for the Buffalonis, the polluting family, who reminds me of Count Olaf. Poor Jack just wants to stay alive and not be hungry. In between are many adventures including a desert island, joining the military, which all leads to a climactic courtroom scene.

A great fairy tale for the preteen set (and us older preteens as well).
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dodd Kazem on February 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I read this book to my 8-year old daughter. Every night, she couldn't wait til i come home from work, cuddle up under a blanket, and read it to her. She laughed, cried, and learned, and...we both fell in love with the way this scarecrow looked at life. 3 weeks later and she is still associating with, and laughing about, the positive way this creature interpreted life.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Kool Fool on January 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
To tell the truth, I'm not much of a fan of His Dark Materials Trilogy. I felt it was a little too dark, especially because it's considered children's material. But the name Philip Pullman still has been carved (possibly for eternity) in my memory, so when I saw this book in the New Arrivals, I had to pick it up.

My first thought when I saw the cover was: aw, that's so cute. You see, it's not everyday I see a picture of a turnip with a face--a friendly one on top of it. And when I finished the book, my first thought was: aw, that's so cute. Yea. Seriously.

If you're expecting something that resembles His Dark Materials, then you're looking at the wrong book. (You should have--hopefully--been able to figure it out just from looking at the cover, which is still cute. :]) This book is just a light and humorous read possibly appropriate for kids 8 and under (though if I were a parent I would object to the appearance of the word "damn" twice), but is enjoyable as well for all ages except for maybe the teens. Depending on your views, it can also pass as satirical and political, but that's just my opinion.

This book is reminiscent of those children's books I used to read that were written long before I was born. A scarecrow is alive and animals talk and no one is surprised at either (at least not for long) and other strange things just keep happening, but eventually you learn to stop questioning and accept the magical realism. The scarecrow definitely reminds me of the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz just because they're both scarecrows. Though the Oz scarecrow didn't crack me up as much as this scarecrow does. (An abundance of illustrations with this scarecrow's hilarious turnip face also helps, of course.
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