Review of Oz Book 9: The Scarecrow of Oz (1915)
In 1915, one year after Tik-Tok of Oz Baum released the ninth Oz book, The Scarecrow of Oz.
This book features two new characters to Oz, Cap’n Bill and Trot. Both of these characters previously appeared in the Baum non-Oz works The Sea Fairies (1911) and Sky Island (1912). Bill and Trot set sail from California for a short ride in their row boat. A storm suddenly appears and the duo find themselves in a fairy land (but not Oz, just yet). Bill and Trot find their way to the land of Mo, which previously appeared in the non-Oz book; The Magical Monarch of Mo. As you can see, Baum started to fold his previous non-Oz characters and lands into his Oz books when it was clear no one wanted to read anything but the Oz books. It makes these later books interesting in that almost every character and land had appeared in a previous non-Oz book.
Anyway, Bill and Trot run into Button-Bright in the land of Mo. Button previously appeared in not only the Oz books but in Bill and Trot’s last book, Sky Island. So the group makes their way to Jinxland. Jinxland is sort of a “sister” land to Oz. It’s found on the same continent but divided by a nearly impassable mountain range. Anyway, our heroes get tangled up in the drama of the King of Jinxland, his daughter, the gardener she loves and a royal suitor she doesn’t. The scarecrow shows up to help and all is set right with the world.
I honestly am not sure why this book is named after the Scarecrow. He only shows up at the very end, but he does help save the day. Truthfully, I was a little disappointed in the story. The characters were good. I liked Bill and Trot, I even enjoyed Button-Bright more than I did in previous books. I just was a bit let down by the entire story. I’m hoping I’m not getting “Oz fatigue”. Since Bill and Trot appear here and in the two previous books, I may wind up reading, at the very least, Sky Island. Sky Island also features Button-Bright, like I said, and Polychrome, the Rainbow’s Daughter. However, I may also read The Sea Fairies as I’ve read that Baum considers that his best work.
As you can see, it’s getting harder to define what I’m going to read because as of this point, Baum is incorporating so many of his non-Oz characters into the Oz books, that it’s hard not to just say f**k it and read them all. Or f**k it and stop reading. I’m going to continue reading these main Oz books as I only have a few left and I want to finish them by the end of the year. Next year, I may catch up and read some of the other non-Oz books like The Sea Fairies, Sky Island, The Magical Monarch of Mo, The Master Key, etc. But right now, I’m focusing on the core five Oz books I have left.
My final verdict on this Oz book is that, compared to the books before it, this one is disappointing overall. It’s still a good book, but in relation to the other Oz books, it’s only okay. I’m hoping this is a temporary dip in quality and that the next book is better.