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The Sea Fairies: 12/04/20
The Sea Fairies by L. Frank Baum is the first Trot & Cap'n Bill books. Trot and Bill were supposed to be heroes of a separate and equally popular series. But the majority of the fan mail regarding them was to ask when Ozma would invite them to live in the Emerald City, which he did in The Scarecrow of Oz.
The year before this novel, Baum had moved to California. The move is reflected in his choice of setting. Mayre, or Trot to her friends, lives with her mother and Cap'n Bill on the California coast. Her father has taken over Bill's ship after he lost his leg in an accident. But Trot spends most of her time with Bill.
The Baums first move to California was the Hotel del Coronado. The influence of the area shows in how Trot and Bill's adventure begins. They meet a mermaid, or a "sea fairy" in a coastal cave. The place in San Diego that has caves like that is La Jolla.
Trot and Bill are transformed into merfolk and invited to visit their home beneath the sea. In their merfolk form, Trot and Bill can travel hundreds of miles in a few minutes. They stay dry but can fly through the water. They can breath easily and talk to all the sea creatures.
But Trot is no Dorothy and Bill is not the Wizard. Where Dorothy is practical and calm to her very core, Trot is flighty and bratty. Bill takes pleasure in complaining. Where Dorothy sees beauty in a magical creature's uniqueness, Trot is judgmental. Trot on meeting Zog, the chimera big bad of the book, she asks him, "Why don't you kill yourself?" Dorothy would never show level of callousness.
John R. Neill's illustrations for the Oz books are a big part of the magic. He clearly understood country life and domestic animals. Though he illustrates this one, his drawings demonstrate he had no solid understanding of sea life. The goofy drawings further detract from the potential enjoyment of his undersea fantasy.
Like the Oz books, The Sea Fairies sits on the road narrative spectrum. While it should seem that Trot and Bill would be the travelers, serving as a de facto family, Bill and his long lost brother (CC) are the travelers. The destination is utopia, namely the under sea kingdom (FF). The route they take is offroad (66) (through the sea). To summarize, The Sea Fairies is about sibling travelers reuniting after a journey to utopia via an offroad route (CCFF66).
The second Trot and Cap'n Bill book is Sky Island (1912).