The Scarecrow of Oz

Discuss the places, people and other Ozzy things in the Land of Oz itself. Look for info about Oz books, their authors, illustrators and contemporary successors.

The Scarecrow of Oz

dittersdorf
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Joined: 03 Apr 2011, 21:11

17 May 2011, 06:34 #1

My continuing project of re-reading all forty Oz books continues. I recently moved back to California and was without internet access for a while, so I did not post on "Patchwork Girl" or "Tik Tok" which I have read in the interim since my last post. Last night I finished "The Scarecrow of Oz" and found myself utterly enchanted. I have not read this book since the late 80's, and actually know it better from the Disneyland record adaptation starring Ray Bolger than I do from the actual book. It's odd, but it never struck me before how well written and well plotted this book is, nor how enjoyable the entire result. There is no wonder that Baum considered it one of his best - it is. Although Trot and Cap'n Bill had been introduced in "Sea Fairies" and "Sky Island" they seem very much at home in an Oz story; the Ork is a magnificent creation; and Blinkie one of Baum's best villains.
     "Scarecrow" is sometimes referred to as a "novelization" of Baum's "His Majesty, The Scarecrow of Oz", but, having just re-watched this film, I find that the two stories have little in common beyond the plot of King Krewl, Princess Gloria and Pon the gardener's boy. In fact, in the book, the main plot of the earlier film is really no more than a sub-plot, and the only portion of the narrative in which Baum seems to be distinctly describing a scene in the film is in his description of the freezing of Princess Gloria's heart. Other than that, the first half of the book is entirely new and original, as is the tale's denouement.
     One thing that I don't quite understand is the constant denegration of Pon by the other characters - it forms an unusual running commentary, and none of the major characters (including the Ork) seem to think much of him or believe him to be an equal match to Princess Gloria. This is probably Baum simply having fun with the traditional prince/princess romantic motif found in most fairy tales. Indeed, Pon does little to win our sympathy  (although I do think the others are a little rough on him) and even Gloria herself seems to believe that he may not be the best choice in the world, but that she can't choose who she falls in love with (as can none of us). These are sly jokes on Baum's part, evidently aimed at the adult readers in his audience, but I'm not sure if this part of the plot is brought off with complete success. Baum's second attempt at an anti-romance, "The Tin Woodman of Oz" (which happens to be one of my favorite books in the series) is, I think, a far more fascinating look at the realities of love versus traditional fairy tale romance.
Well - on to "Rinkitink". I did not care for this book when I first read it in 1985, but I haven't touched it since, so I'm looking forward to what my current reaction will be. Would like to hear others' opinions on "Scarecrow".
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Last edited by dittersdorf on 17 May 2011, 06:38, edited 2 times in total.
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jaredadavis
Member
Joined: 20 Apr 2005, 23:03

17 May 2011, 11:34 #2

Welcome back, dittersdorf! We've missed you!

(No, seriously, we've missed you.)

Just like you, I agree that it's not fair to write off The Scarecrow of Oz as an adaptation of His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz. I do, however, think that the beginning of it was going to be the third Trot and Cap'n Bill book. Consider this: The Sea Fairies dealt with a journey through water, Sky Island had a journey through air, and The Scarecrow of Oz hurls Trot and Cap'n Bill underground.
Last edited by jaredadavis on 17 May 2011, 17:53, edited 1 time in total.
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dittersdorf
Member
Joined: 03 Apr 2011, 21:11

17 May 2011, 17:26 #3

Yes, you're absolutely right Jared. Don't know why I didn't think of this before - Baum had probably plotted out the first half of the book before he decided to make it into an Oz book (and then came up with the happy idea of adding some elements from "His Majesty, The Scarecrow"). All-in-all a delightful read. Have you written about "Scarecrow" on your blog? I'll have to read it!.
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dittersdorf
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Joined: 03 Apr 2011, 21:11

17 May 2011, 17:35 #4

Oh, and I forgot to mention how much I like the character of Pessim - reminds me a bit of my father! He is an Oz character who is rarely mentioned but who, like the Lonesome Duck in "Magic", is somewhat fascinating in his complete separation from society - a character quality found in a few of Baum's creations, and always a quality (from Baum's point of view) to be pitied. The aforementioned Lonesome Duck and the endlessly fascinating Red Reera also come to mind.
     I had also forgotten that a brief part of the book takes place in Mo. Which makes me look forward to your book, Jared, with even morekeen anticipation!
BTW, why do Trot and her retinue feel so uncomfortable and out of place in Mo? Perhaps even they find Mo to be too outlandish in its fanciful weather system?
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jaredadavis
Member
Joined: 20 Apr 2005, 23:03

17 May 2011, 17:54 #5

dittersdorf wrote:Have you written about "Scarecrow" on your blog? I'll have to read it!.
Yep! http://newwwoz.blogspot.c.../06/scarecrow-of-oz.html

Still working on blogging about the Famous Forty, and in Thompson's later books, which I'm afraid I'm not doing justice to.
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