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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 17 February 2005
This delightful book tells the story of a scarecrow brought to life when it is struck by lightning. He is a pompous, blustering fellow, yet likeably in his naivety. Wanting adventures and to see the world, he employs a young boy, Jack, to be his servant. The story is told in lots of short chapters, each a mini adventure, in which one of the scarecrow's body parts is either lost, broken or stolen ... and then replaced. This raises an interesting question (and plot-twist) when, by the end of the book, everything about him is different: is he still the same scarecrow or not?
As with all Philip Pullman's books, the writing is a delight. Not a wasted word. The subject matter is probably best suited to younger readers 7 - 10, or as a series of bedtime stories for 5 - 7 year-olds. Charmingly illustrated by Peter Bailey.
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on 8 November 2004
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.
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on 27 November 2005
I read this to my two sons age 10 and 8 as a change from their own reading. We all loved it. Everyone reviewing him defaults to Pullman's merits as "a storyteller"- but you just cant avoid admiring the beautiful characterisations, imaginative locations (that dreamlike otherworldliness in just about all his work), and perfect pace. Reading this aloud was a treat- the dialogue is light and flows (in stark contrast to JKR!) and the pace is well judged throughout. The storyline (a scarecrow who comes to life and deems to take on a rootless boy through a series of risky confrontations) places this book firmly for kids who love a good yarn, (and adults who love a good childrens book).
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on 11 December 2004
I agree that Phillip Pullman has done it again with The Scarecrow and His Servant - it's a wonderfully told fairytale for all age-groups, and a story which warms and stays with you for a long time after it's been read. However, I would like to say how much I enjoyed and valued the illustrations by Peter Bailey and how much they enhance and complete the book - and actually MAKE it, for me. So often illustrations go unnoticed or are unappreciated, even in children's books (especially when the author is as popular and well-known as Phillip Pullman) but in my opinion the illustrations for this story make the book a gem.
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VINE VOICEon 29 May 2005
Although many people would probably only read this book if they were aged 10 or under, it really could be enjoyed by anyone of any age. I found it hilarious and the story, although simple, had a wonderful logic to it that culminated in the great court scene! Jack and the Scarecrow were both very funny and individual characters and although there were many traditional elements to the story, it never seemed cliched or derivative. I would recommend it to anyone, along with most of what Philip Pullman has written. I also liked the illustrations in this book and they really do add to the story.
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on 6 January 2005
I purchased this book for our daughter last Christmas and somehow we all ended up having a couple of chapters read outloud each night for the whole family to enjoy. I enjoyed reading this book so much and the family were gripped. It is written in a style that I would have enjoyed when I was a child and the relationship between the scarecrow and Jack is one of such loyalty and the adventures they have always sees them looking out for one another. It really is the nicest story that I have read to my children for many years. I first heard about the author through a French neighbour and what a great recommendation. I will definitely be reading more of his books.
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VINE VOICEon 25 January 2006
Philip Pullman is quickly becoming the most important children's writer of not only this time, but of all time. With 'His Dark Materials' he helped give critical credibility to the genre and inspired young readers with with his fantasic multiple universes and daemons. But is perhaps his ability to speak to children on their level that Pullman really sets himself apart from the rest.
In 'Scarecrow' Pullman not only deals with friendship and what it means to be a friend but he also brings into question the nature of captilaism. But this is never done in a manner that could be considered preaching. He paints a picture and then lets the audience make up their minds thus giving children the respect they deserve.
On the whole this is a quaint, enjoyable tale. The pce is rip roaring, the prose crisp and to the point while the geography of the text is astounding for such a short work. If it wasn't for the ending 'Scarecrow' would certainly have deserved the full fivestars. As it is the climax is arguably the most stilted part of the book. The element of believability seems to fade slightly - only slightly - but it puts a downer on an otherwise great book that will, no doubt, be read for years. And if I seem like I'm nit picking then Pullman only has himself to blame. If he hadn't set such high standards with his previous work then we wouldn't expect so bloody much, would we?! I look forward to his next release as ever
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on 13 March 2010
My nine year old boy was given this as a present. I thought it might be a bit un-sophisticated but having looked at it i found the language very enriching. My son ( a well read boy) loved it. He thought it was hilarious, and raced through it.

The times review said it was excellent also while one reviewer here said it was rubbish. I urge you to ignore the rubbish review.
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on 30 January 2015
My 10 year old son's favourite book. Sweet and gentle, beautiful language, and mystically old fashioned. Phillip Pullman writes children's books that you really like your children to read or be read to.
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on 24 January 2014
I liked this book because it was funny and an adventure.I think the idea of a scarecrow and his servant is unique and I really like the characters. I particularly liked the part where the scarecrow fell in love with a broom!
I felt that some language was a bit hard to understand and so I would probably recommend this book for children that are at least 8 years old.
I have given this book 3 stars because I felt that it took a while to get into as the start seemed a bit slow but once it gets going its great.
I would possibly like to read more books by Philip Pullman in the future.
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