Twenty Chickens for a Saddle: The Story of an African Childhood Paperback – 18 May 2009
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'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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A lovely book which brings to life the eccentric childhood of Robyn and her siblings in Botswana, and describes so well the country, its wildlife and its culture.Published 3 months ago by Colesy
Loved this story about an eccentric family growing up in Botswana complete with all its wonders & magniifcent wildlife. Well worth a read.Published 8 months ago by Sioux
If I didn't make a point of finishing books once I've started then I would have abandoned this after a couple of chapters. And having finally finished it I'm sorry I bothered. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Elaine Martin
A traveling book,it has traveled all round my family and beyond.Published 17 months ago by D. Chemney