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1001 Four Tales
Added on 06th August 2020

Author Phillip Pullman
Illustrator Peter Bailey
First published 2010
Publisher Doubleday

A prince with a clockwork heart, a girl who wants to be a firework maker, a boy who was once a rat and a scarecrow caught up in a war - four magical adventure stories by a master storyteller.


Four Tales is an illustrated collection of four modern fairy tales by master storyteller Philip Pullman.

Clockwork, or All Wound Up (1995) has a story within a story, a spine-tingling tale about a young prince with a clockwork heart that threatens to come true for the writer, the clockmaker’s apprentice and the innkeeper’s daughter.

The Firework Maker's Daughter (1995) is about a girl who wants to become a firework maker like her father, but first must face the terrifying Fire Fiend.

I Was A Rat! Or The Scarlet Slippers (1999) features a strange but endearing boy adopted by an old couple, who is convinced that he used to be a rat.

The Scarecrow and His Servant (2004) tells of a scarecrow brought to life by a bolt of lightning who appoints Jack, an orphan boy, as his servant and sets off in search of some land to call his own.

Why we chose it

These are four beautifully crafted tales for younger readers that are full of myth, magic and adventure. Each has its own distinctive mood and setting, and all work on many levels, combining entertaining characters and plots with wise life lessons about family, friendship, kindness and courage.

Where it came from

Philip Pullman studied English at Oxford and has lived in the city for most of his life. For many years, as a teacher, then a trainer of teachers, he told myths and fairy tales to show their power to teach and delight. The Firework Maker’s Daughter began as a school play, and Pullman has said that Clockwork (an exquisite demonstration of how to propel a story) is the book of which he is most proud.

Knighted in 2019 for his services to literature, Pullman has written over 30 award-winning books, graphic novels and plays, and is the founding patron of The Story Museum.

Where it went next

Clockwork became a stage musical, The Firework Maker’s Daughter a play and an opera and I was a Rat! a BAFTA-winning TV series. The Scarecrow and his Servant may be animated by Aardman.

Associated stories

Pullman picture book fairy tales include Aladdin, Mossycoat and Puss in Boots.

In the museum

Find The Subtle Knife room in our Enchanted Library and a portrait of Philip Pullman dressed as Long John Silver, his favourite childhood story character, in our 26 Characters display.

Added on 06th August 2020

Author Phillip Pullman
Illustrator Peter Bailey
First published 2010
Publisher Doubleday