MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Summary and book reviews of Twenty Chickens for a Saddle by Robyn Scott

Twenty Chickens for a Saddle

The Story of an African Childhood

by Robyn Scott

Twenty Chickens for a Saddle by Robyn Scott X
Twenty Chickens for a Saddle by Robyn Scott
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Mar 2008, 464 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2009, 464 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Vy Armour
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

A glorious new voice on Africa, Robyn Scott's adventures growing up in Botswana in a loving but eccentric family will be one of the season's most talked-about memoirs

Robyn Scott's story of moving at the age of seven to Botswana with her adventure-seeking parents is described by Alexander McCall Smith as "beautifully written" and "acutely observed." It is that and more. Twenty Chickens for a Saddle is an exquisitely rendered portrait of Africa, and of childhood, written by an astonishing new talent.

The Scotts are truly one of the most unusual families you are likely to meet. Robyn's father is a flying doctor who always wanted to be a vet. Her mother believes in holistic medicine and homeschooling. Both are deeply eccentric, and under their affectionate but relaxed guidance, life for the children is a daily adventure of the kind usually confined to storybooks.

Storybooks-or being read to from them-comprise, it turns out, most of their homeschooled education. That, and searching the surrounding bush for animals (poisonous and otherwise) to let loose in their schoolroom. As a result of the absolute freedom of spirit, thought, and movement that they are given, all three children grow into fascinating, if rather eccentric, characters in their own right.

When the family moves to a game farm bordering South Africa, the children become more aware of the darker undercurrents of life in Africa. Here the apartheid mind-set lives on in many of their white South African neighbors. And when at fourteen Robyn begins conventional school in neighboring Zimbabwe, she sees more of the racism initially only glimpsed in Botswana. AIDS also rears its head. Long witnessed by Robyn's father at his village clinics, the existence of the disease is acknowledged by the government too late-only as death, on an unprecedented scale, begins to devastate this peaceful and prosperous African country.

Robyn Scott is an extraordinarily gifted writer and storyteller. Like the witch doctors who compete with her father for patients, she weaves a spell from the start. Her funny, moving memoir, told with clear-eyed unsentimental affection, is about an idyllic childhood and a family's enthusiasm for each other and the world around them, with the essence of Africa-both beautiful and challenging-infusing every page.

Chapter One

Above the bush, the pink and orange streaked sky had faded to gray. Inside, it was almost dark, and Grandpa, in his chair beneath the room's only window, caught the last of the light. He sat completely still, smiling at our confusion.

His whisper had silenced the conversation. "Look who's joining us for drinks," he had said. But nothing had moved. The door remained closed, the cat curled peacefully on the sofa. No new sounds interrupted the soft ring of chirps, rustles, and faraway hunting barks.

We waited for an explanation. He gave none. His gaze alternated between us and the ceiling; his body remained still. One hand clutched a small glass, full with an equal mixture of red wine and grape juice; the other lay on the armrest, long fingers digging into the worn velvet covers.

Then a flicker near the ceiling, and a shadowy creature plunged out of the gloom.

Just above his head, close enough to brush wisps of thin white hair, it ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Most of us read for many reasons. Escape, adventure, understanding of other cultures, but always for a good story. Twenty Chickens for a Saddle, the story of a remarkable family, will give you all of the above and then some. I highly recommend it...continued

Full Review (810 words).

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access, become a member today.

(Reviewed by Vy Armour).

Media Reviews

Publishing News - Sue Baker
If I had just two words allowed for this title, they’d be “stock it”, but I’d go on to say that this is a real gem – an excellent hand-sell title. Nobody could fail to love this story of an eccentric childhood, so movingly and joyously described by Scott.

Publishers Weekly
She has no sordid revelations, no shocking surprises - just a raconteur's talent for making any story she tells interesting.

Kirkus Reviews
A colorful, occasionally shocking fish-out-of-water memoir.

Author Blurb Michela Wrong, author of In The Footsteps of Mr Kurtz
An elegant, evocative, poignant, beautifully-written piece of work.

Author Blurb Alexander McCall Smith
Both a wonderful memoir of an exotic childhood and a striking portrait of one of the world's most beguiling countries. A gem of a book.

Author Blurb Aminatta Forna, author of The Devil that Danced on the Water and Ancestor Stones
Captivating, candid and utterly fresh. Twenty Chickens for a Saddle is a story of childhood, tenderness and joy. It lets in the light.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Interesting Facts About Botswana

Since independence in 1966, the former British Protectorate of Bechuanaland has transformed itself from one of the continent's poorest nations into one of its most prosperous. Botswana (map) has vast diamond wealth which has underpinned this boom (Jwaneng, the world's largest and richest diamond mine, was discovered when termites looking for water brought grains of diamond to the surface), but, making it almost unique among its neighbors, the money has been carefully spent and reinvested in infrastructure, education and health by a judicious government.

The small population – fewer than two million in an area about the size of France – has also contributed to the country's remarkably high per capita GDP ($15,800 in 2008 ...

This "beyond the book" feature is available to non-members for a limited time. Join today for full access.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked Twenty Chickens for a Saddle, try these:

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Pew
    Pew
    by Catherine Lacey
    A quote often attributed to Leo Tolstoy states that "All great literature is one of two stories; a ...
  • Book Jacket: Waiting for an Echo
    Waiting for an Echo
    by Christine Montross
    Dr. Christine Montross had been a practicing psychiatrist for nearly a decade when she decided to ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Flight Portfolio
    by Julie Orringer
    At once a sweeping historical narrative, an insightful character study and a tender romance, Julie ...
  • Book Jacket: The Color of Air
    The Color of Air
    by Gail Tsukiyama
    Daniel was raised in Hilo, Hawaii by Japanese immigrant parents. Having traveled to the U.S. ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Hieroglyphics
    by Jill McCorkle

    A mesmerizing novel about piecing together the hieroglyphics of history and memory.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Woman Before Wallis
    by Bryn Turnbull

    The true story of the American divorcée who captured the Prince's heart before Wallis.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Beekeeper of Aleppo
by Christy Lefteri

This moving, intimate, and beautifully written novel puts human faces on the Syrian war.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Every Bone a Prayer

Every Bone a Prayer by Ashley Blooms

A beautifully honest exploration of healing and of hope.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

T Real M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.