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Twenty Chickens for a Saddle: The Story of an African Childhood

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Robyn Scott

Robyn Scott was seven years old when her free-spirited parents moved the family to Botswana. Her eccentric early childhood and unorthodox home-school education--which often involved unsupervised adventures into the jungle--is full of delights, but after … see full wiki

Author: Robyn Scott
Genre: Biography & Autobiography
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Date Published: March 31, 2009
1 review about Twenty Chickens for a Saddle: The Story...

Breathtaking and Wonderful Adventure

  • Dec 31, 2009
Pros: Great stories are related in a humane and engaging manner.

Cons: It's only a con if you don't read this. That would be a tragedy.

The Bottom Line: READ THIS NOW. This is a great story that is well written.

Can you imagine growing up where one has to shake your shoes out to check for scorpions and look for spitting cobras when going to the restroom at night?

Twenty Chickens for a Saddle is the tale of Robyn Scott who grew up in Botswana. 

There are no end to the strong personalities she describes in her recollection of growing up in Botswana.

This is one of the most touching books I've read in years. Seriously, I would read a few chapters and then hold the book close to me as I sighed and thought about what I'd learned.

Ms. Scott was the daughter of a doctor and granddaughter of a pilot who was basically "Air Botswana."  After living in New Zealand as a small child, her family relocated to Botswana where they took up residence in the cowshed near her grandfather's home.  As they cleared away cobwebs and "critters" her mother proclaimed joyfully that their new home had "so much potential." 

Being homeschooled in Africa afforded many opportunities to have adventures and Robyn and her siblings had many.  They learned to watch out for snakes and to show reverance for every living creature.  Brother Damien once paddled back across a crocodile inhabited pond to rescue a drowning moth.

The Scott children learned to deal with strong personalities. Their paternal grandfather was incredibly opinionated about every given subject and used every given situation to lecture anyone who would listen with his expert view.  They learned to accept the poor and downtrodden who were the impoverished patients of their father at the beginning of the AIDS devastation of Africa.

An unconventional upbringing with idealistic parents afforded the Scott children the chance to make their own observations.  The open hearted nature of their parents served to make them all "global citizens." 

The children interacted with every sort of animal creature one can imagine. They learned to nurture lizards, snakes, horses, and more. Robyn talks about interactions with the feisty horses that would buck and throw them and then run away back to the "kraal" of the former owner.  They learn about the giant crocodile that they call Fiddian Green that lives in the pond near their home.  The children learned about returning their small portion of Africa to its  natural state because of efforts of their conservationist father.  Their mother, nominally their teacher did not hold firm to any structured curriculum, rather she encouraged the children to LEARN from their daily environment.  Her major focus was to instill in them the love of learning.  Mom did a great job.

After reading this book, I want to know these people.  They are interesting and stubborn and filled with a unique perspective about our planet and specifically the small portion of their world in Botswana.

This book has a "sigh" factor of 5/5.  It's very well written. The dialogue is believable and engaging. The author's narration is a compelling and heart warming description of growing up white in an African nation. 


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