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.
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.
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)
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.)