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The Scarecrow and His Servant

The Scarecrow and His Servant

4.1 9
by Philip Pullman, Graeme Malcolm (Read by)

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A tattered scarecrow stands in the middle of a muddy field, taking no notice of the violent thunderstorm around him. But when a bolt of lightning strikes him, fizzing its way through his turnip head and down his broomstick, the Scarecrow blinks with surprise—and comes to life.

So begins the story of the Scarecrow, a courteous but pea-brained fellow with


A tattered scarecrow stands in the middle of a muddy field, taking no notice of the violent thunderstorm around him. But when a bolt of lightning strikes him, fizzing its way through his turnip head and down his broomstick, the Scarecrow blinks with surprise—and comes to life.

So begins the story of the Scarecrow, a courteous but pea-brained fellow with grand ideas. He meets a boy, Jack, who becomes his faithful servant. Leaving behind his bird-scaring duties, the Scarecrow sets out for Spring Valley, with Jack at his side. As the valiant Scarecrow plunges them into terrifying dangers—battles, brigands, broken hearts, and treasure islands—he never realizes he’s being followed by the one family who desperately wishes he’d never sprung to life. Will the Scarecrow discover the secret to his past before the crooked Buffalonis close in on him?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Oz isn't the only place where scarecrows make great traveling companions. In Pullman's (The Golden Compass) charming and original fairy tale, a natty and blithe scarecrow comes to life when he's struck by lightning. He quickly hires on a local orphan boy named Jack to be his servant and the two set off to see not the wizard, but the world-and seek out a place called Spring Valley, where the scarecrow knows he belongs. Entertaining adventures, including outwitting a band of brigands, ensue. British actor Malcolm's velvety, elegant voice makes nimble transitions between a cast of distinct character voices: the gruff brigands, simple farmer and eager young Jack. The scarecrow's confident, sophisticated manner of speaking is humorous and sometimes touching-but always memorable. Listeners will delight in Malcolm's interpretation of this blend of new twists and familiar elements, all strung together in Pullman's fine style. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 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 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A pair of valiant adventurers outwits a lawyer and his corporate masters in this comic fairy tale. The Scarecrow has been stolen so often that, by the time it comes to life, it's nowhere near its home in Spring Valley. Together with clever orphan Jack, whom he hires as a servant, the Scarecrow quests for his home. Along the way, he becomes an actor, a lover and a soldier. Each time, the Scarecrow's foolishness is nearly their undoing until resourceful Jack saves the day. But unbeknownst to Jack and the Scarecrow, they're being followed by a lawyer for the wicked Buffaloni family, which wants to turn the Scarecrow's beautiful Spring Valley into a rat poison factory. Luckily, Jack's cleverness and the Scarecrow's kindness (for, though he exists to scare birds, he can't bear to scare a baby bird or its parents) help them defeat the Buffalonis in a thoroughly amusing conclusion. Lightweight for Pullman, but witty, affectionate and fun. (Fantasy. 8-12)
From the Publisher
“The book is a perfectly made gem, full of fun, fireworks, and wit. We continue to be lucky to have Philip Pullman writing for us.”–The Guardian (U.K.)
“Philip Pullman, now acknowledged as one of the greatest children’s authors of our time, is also one of the funniest and most accessible.”–The Times (U.K.)
“[Pullman’s] touch is so sure, his plotting so flawless, that you know a new Pullman means a rare treat. The Scarecrow and His Servant does not disappoint.”–The Herald (U.K.)

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

PHILIP PULLMAN is one of the most acclaimed writers working today. He is best known for the His Dark Materials trilogy (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass), which has been named one of the top 100 novels of all time by Newsweek and one of the all-time greatest novels by Entertainment Weekly. He has also won many distinguished prizes, including the Carnegie Medal for The Golden Compass (and the reader-voted "Carnegie of Carnegies" for the best children's book of the past seventy years); the Whitbread (now Costa) Award for The Amber Spyglass; a Booker Prize long-list nomination (The Amber Spyglass); Parents' Choice Gold Awards (The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass); and the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, in honor of his body of work. In 2004, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
It has recently been announced that The Book of Dust, the much anticipated new book from Mr. Pullman, also set in the world of His Dark Materials, will be published as a major work in three parts, with the first part to arrive in October 2017.  
Philip Pullman is the author of many other much-lauded novels. Other volumes related to His Dark Materials: Lyra’s Oxford, Once Upon a Time in the North, and The Collectors. For younger readers: I Was a Rat!; Count Karlstein; Two Crafty Criminals; Spring-Heeled Jack, and The Scarecrow and His Servant. For older readers: the Sally Lockhart quartet: The Ruby in the Smoke, The Shadow in the North, The Tiger in the Well, and The Tin PrincessThe White Mercedes; and The Broken Bridge.
Philip Pullman lives in Oxford, England. To learn more, please visit philip-pullman.com and hisdarkmaterials.com. Or follow him on Twitter at @PhilipPullman.

Brief Biography

Oxford, England
Date of Birth:
October 19, 1946
Place of Birth:
Norwich, England
Exeter College, Oxford University

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The Scarecrow and His Servant 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Stardust_Fiddle More than 1 year ago
In the tradition of “The Wizard of Oz,” Philip Pullman’s children’s novel, “The Scarecrow and His Servant” blends fantasy with adventure to create a curious story of friendship and ingenuity. When struck by lightning in a wheat field, a typical scarecrow with a broomstick backbone and a turnip head comes to life like Frankenstein—with the notable exception of the scarecrow’s decidedly benign and non-monstrous nature. The Scarecrow soon happens upon a young boy, Jack, whom he adopts as his servant, and the two embark upon an adventurous journey to Spring Valley, where the Scarecrow is sure that he belongs. They encounter dangerous events at every turn, from brigands to a regiment to a shipwreck, and their quest is challenging. Fortunately for the humorous and often ignorant Scarecrow, Jack is inventive and resourceful, and together they face each trial with hope. However, as with every folk story, there is a villain determined to have his own way, and this time that entity is embodied by the Buffalonis, an ill-famed family who claims the rights to Spring Valley. The outcome may be unexpected, but the fun and danger of the journey is certain. “The Scarecrow and His Servant” is written much like a fairy tale for older children and adolescents aged approximately 8-12. There are many words that will require a dictionary or an adult’s guidance, and the obscenity “damn” appears on page 116. The story itself is highly fantastical and unbelievable, containing multiple anachronisms such as mentions of winning the lottery and a police station, but hence the mythical element. Overall, Pullman’s short novel introduces readers to endearing characters and an interesting plotline fraught with obstacles and humor, if inaccurate and insensible at times.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is fun to read. The name says it all; i recommend it to anyone who is looking for a good fun book.
Colesta More than 1 year ago
I loved this book because it was funny and unrealistic. I don't like many fantasy books but this was one of the best of the few that I like. I would love for you to read this book because its funny and it makes you want to read on. This book has a good twist of mystery slipped into it to make it the coolest story ever!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
i read this book when i was in 5th or 6th grade ( i don't remember) for those reading quizes where you have to read a book every 2 months and take a quiz for it for a grade. so i picked this book up, thinking it was short. at first i thought it was a stupid book because who wants to read about a scarecrow coming to life. It's just like cinderella. but then after i read it, it turned out to be a really good book. I finished this in 3 days. Must read for children.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a fun book to read. I felt that some of the wording could be confusing for elementary age readers but it is a good way to expose them into language. Fun story with an excited adventure!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Our children, ages 6, 9 and 9, and I have enjoyed reading this book aloud this summer. Pullman is a marvelous storyteller, and this book lends itself perfectly to dramatic reading 'even overacting, if you're so inclined'-- enchanting.
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