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Twenty Chickens for a Saddle: The Story of an African Childhood Paperback – 18 May 2009

4.6 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (18 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747596565
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747596561
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 84,051 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'The nearest thing you will get to Gerald Durrell's My Family and Other Animals in Africa and it is just as enchanting' Giles Foden, Conde Nast Traveller 'Beautifully written and lovingly told, Scott's book has the makings to be Out of Africa meets Running with Scissors' New York Times Book Review 'A fabulous read, rollicking, good-humoured and intensely sane' Alexandra Fuller 'Scott does more than simply record her African adventures. She tackles the difficult issue of race, revealing a shift in white attitudes across the generations [and] remind[s] us that southern Africa has many different histories' Independent

About the Author

Born in 1981, Robyn Scott spent her childhood in Botswana before beginning her formal education at the age of fourteen in Zimbabwe. Moving to New Zealand for her undergraduate degree, she studied bioinformatics at the University of Auckland. In 2004, she was awarded a Gates Scholarship to Cambridge University, where she took an MPhil in bioscience enterprise and studied the pricing of medicines in developing countries. Robyn lives in london, but visits and works regularly in southern Africa.


Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I read a review of this in Conde Nast Traveller by Giles Foden describing it as "My Family and Other Animals - in Africa" and, having been a fan of Durrell since I was a teenager, I felt compelled to see if he was right.

So, granted, there's not so much about about animals in a pin-them-to-a-board-and-count-their-abdomens kind of way, but the way Robyn Scott brings to life the wildlife and landscapes of Botswana, where she grew up as a child, is very much in the spirit of Durrell's books. Hers is also an eccentric family - a flying doctor father, a homeschooling mother, an adrenaline-addicted brother and animal-obsessed sister, and, making regular cameo appearances throughout, her four wonderful grandparents, (in particular her grandfather Ivor who, with his crazy schemes, questionable flying skills and longstanding feuds, makes for many laugh-out-loud moments.) In the midst of it all is Robyn, the narrator, an oasis of calm who desperately wants to be a normal child from a normal family.

The book's real triumph is Robyn's ability to show us the warmer, more human side of Africa that we so seldom get the chance to read about. It's a really life-affirming and big-hearted book, like a love-letter to Botswana, it colourful inhabitants and beautiful landscapes.
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Format: Hardcover
Arundel Books is an Independent Bookstore in Seattle. Our staff believes that this is the BEST Non-Fiction Debut of 2008.

Robyn Scott's Twenty Chickens for a Saddle is an astonishing debut. Set in Botswana, it is her account of growing up with one of the most wonderfully mad families you are likely to meet, whether in real life or between the covers of a book.

She has a remarkable ear for language, and a descriptive prose style that brings the bush country of Botswana, with all its flora, fauna, and people, to magically madcap life. Twenty Chickens for a Saddle brings to mind such authors as James Herriot and Augusten Burroughs.

This is our pick as the best non-fiction debut for 2008. It is insightful, inspiring, and heartwarming. Her parents, grandparents, siblings, neighbors, and the countryside surrounding them, are truly brought to life. Given Miss Scott's parents decidedly non-traditional approach to child rearing, this book will offer sustenance to parents of home schoolers everywhere.

Whether you like to read about travel, foreign cultures and peoples, families, education, natural history, biographies, accounts of coming-of-age, Africa, science, Horatio Algeresque narratives, women's studies, health and medicine, flying... or just like a darned good book, Twenty Chickens for a Saddle is for you.

If this truly remarkable book is any indication, Miss Scott has an astonishing career ahead of her, and we are looking forward to her future efforts. Make no mistake, Twenty Chickens for a Saddle stands as an equal with the very best non-fiction published by any author in 2008.
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Format: Hardcover
Robyn Scott describes the members of her eccentric family so vividly, and with such warmth, that by the end of the book I felt bereft at having to say goodbye to them. Her descriptions of the Botswana landscape and her childhood adventures within it are beautifully drawn and often very funny. A fascinating picture of both modern Botswana and some fearlessly unconventional parenting. Warm-hearted and generous, a breath of fresh air in these timid times.
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Format: Hardcover
What particularly makes this book stand out is that Scott writes so well. The maturity of her prose, depth of characterisation, genuine poigniancy and wry humour would be outstanding in a writer of any age. That this is her first work, dealing with events of childhood and youth still recent and feelings still quite raw is a majestic achievement. If you want to understand what it feels like to live in Africa then don't read Wilbur Smith, dip into this gem of a memoir and you won't be sorry.
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Format: Hardcover
Wherever you are going for your summer vacation, or even if you are just sitting at home, do read Robyn Scott's delightful book. It has a charm and warmth which combined with the unique philosophy of the big characters within the Scott family will charm you. For those of us who know and love Africa - despite the dark side that we hear reported everyday - this book reminds us of why we can never give up on Southern Africa. At the end of it all I can say is thank you to this remarkable young lady for filling a long flight with such a pleasurable read and ask her when will see her next book?
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
First, a warning. There was not a kindle version at the time I ordered this book and I was dismayed at the tiny print of the paperback.

I loved the rich descriptions right down to the minutae of Botswana, the country, the people, the unconventional parents living on the fringe, the endless anecdotes, etc.

While some of it is described through the innocent eyes of a child, much of it is loaded with serious and factual detail that, intelligent as Robyn is, does not resonate with what she must have seen and experienced as a child at the time. Nothing necessarily wrong with that - just the style of the author.

One thing I felt was lost amid the detail was Robyn's real underlying emotions. For example, every last detail of the dry hot dust of Botswana is factually portrayed but for a child transplanted from a verdant temperate land I never really got a feel of the emotional impact of this. Similarly, when transplanting to boarding school it was pretty much matter of fact.

Maybe the emotion was there and I missed it, but on the whole I thoroughly enjoyment of this amazing alternative childhood story and the education it provided on a fascinating country.
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