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Ascender, Volume 3: The Digital Mage by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen Audubon Cat by Mary Calhoun and Susan Bonners
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The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
The 117-Storey Treehouse by Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton
One Poison Pie by Lynn Cahoon
Santa's Husband by Daniel Kibblesmith and A.P. Quach
The Scarecrow of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Speculative Los Angeles edited by Denise Hamilton
Spells and Scones by Bailey Cates and Amy Rubinate (Narrator)
Sprinkle with Murder by Jenn McKinlay
Stuck on Murder by Lucy Lawrence
Sunny Rolls the Dice by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm
Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby
This Spell Can't Last by Isabel Sterling
We Could Be Heroes by Mike Chen
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The Scarecrow of Oz: 02/05/20

The Scarecrow of Oz

The Scarecrow of Oz by L. Frank Baum is the ninth book in the OZ series. Though written by Baum it's not part of the core novels. It does, however, illustrate a quirk of most of Baum's Oz books: the title has very little to do with the plot. The exceptions to that observation are Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (1906) and The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1913).

Super fans of Baum had also read the two Trot and Cap'n Bill books. Apparently there was high demand to see them in Oz and so they wash ashore on an island just outside Oz its desert border. At the point of reading this book, I hadn't read either of their non-Oz adventures and so didn't recognize them beyond them seeming like a knock off Dorothy and Raggedy-Man.

The novel is 272 pages, most of which has action outside of Oz. Readers familiar with the expanded map of Ozma of Oz (1907), will have trouble finding some of the places described here. Suffice it say, I think by book nine, Baum was bored with Oz and wanted to make up new worlds. Unfortunately he was also in failing health, so this later novel aren't as tightly plotted.

Interestingly, The Scarecrow of Oz is the first mention of immortality in the series. In previous books people did age and die. Now, though, perhaps faced with his own mortality, Baum gives immortality to Oz. Another change is the inclusion of a new Wicked Witch, one of the South who is vying for power with Glinda. Blinkie's skills are similar to Mombi's.

So how does the Scarecrow fit into the book named for him? Believe it or not, his piece, albeit late in the narrative, is what places this novel on the road narrative spectrum. While his overall participation in the journey is short, his piece is vital. He is the catalyst for a successful journey.

On page two hundred when Trot, the Captain, and Button Bright are utterly defeated, the Scarecrow appears. He has traveled south from the Emerald City on Ozma's orders. He is a literal scarecrow traveler (99), there to protect and to save.

The Scarecrow has traveled to the wildlands (00) of Quadling Country. The new arrivals to Oz have gotten separated, enchanted, and lost away from civilization. And yet, the Scarecrow can find them.

To show he has Ozma's magic to back him up, the Scarecrow makes his appearance in a cornfield (FF). There is no reason other reason for a cornfield to be here than to show he has taken the most magical (and dangerous) of routes possible to save Trot, the Captain, and Button Bright.

All together then, the novel's title choice can be explained as a scarecrow traveling to the wildlands via the cornfield to save the day (9900FF).

Four stars

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