Philip Pullman carries the torch for children's writing; he's the first writer of children's books to win the Whitbread award for doing so. "The Scarecrow and his Servant" is evidence aplenty of just why he deserved the award. He writes a great story, and he doesn't patronise his readership. In fact, he writes for a readership, not for children, and delivers an exciting, absorbing narrative direct to his reader, not to a child. He establishes one major fact which all writers should learn - whatever the average age of your readership, they want to be entertained, they want to be challenged, they want to know what happens on the next page.
In "The Scarecrow and his Servant", we are in some distant, over-the-next-horizon fantasy land, where a scarecrow can be brought to life by a lightning strike. It's not just Frankenstein's creation that can benefit from electrical charges. He teams up with young Jack, who is about as bright as the "Wizard of Oz's" tin man, and sets off on a variety of adventures, pursued all the way by an evil lawyer. It's a well-paced adventure, with horror, and comedy, and drama, and a host of allusions to other literary favourites.
"The Scarecrow and his Servant" is the latest offering from a major writer. It will engross, it will entertain, it will keep you turning the pages, whatever your age.