Baum dedicated the book to the Uplifters. Published on 6 June 1915, it was Baum's admitted favorite among his Oz books.
Trot and Cap'n Bill are boating along the California coast. The weather suddenly turns stormy; their rowboat is caught is a whirlpool and dragged down. Trot feels herself supported and protected by "unseen arms" — her mermaid friends. (The Sea Fairies). The two surface in a submarine cave, with only a dark tunnel for an apparent exit. Trot and the Cap'n are joined in the cave by a strange creature called an Ork, a stork-like parrot-headed creature with a propeller tail. After making friends, the two ride on the Ork's back, and fly through the tunnel, out of the cave, and to a nearby island. They have an episode with magic berries (the lavender ones make you shrink, the dark purple ones make you grow).
The trio fly to the Land of Mo, where they meet a Bumpy Man. They eat Mo snow (popcorn) and drink Mo rain (lemonade). They meet Button-Bright, who has gotten lost again. Cap'n Bill makes a deal with the local (talking) birds, who eat the purple berries and grow large enough to carry passengers across the Deadly Desert to Oz. The Ork leaves to find his own way home.
Trot, Button-Bright, and the Cap'n have landed in a remote corner of Oz called Jinxland. The local politics are complex: the rightful ruler, King Kynd, fell into the Great Gulf that separates Jinxland from Oz and was replaced by his prime minister Phearse; King Phearse was in turn done away with by his prime minister, who became King Krewl. Krewl wants to marry Kynd's daughter Gloria to a decrepit, but very wealthy, old lord called Googly-Goo. Gloria, however, loves Pon the gardener, son of Phearse, and refuses to love Googly-Goo. The king and the old lord hire the witch Blinkie to freeze Gloria's heart. Also, suspicious of the strangers who have arrived in Jinxland, Blinkie transforms Cap'n Bill into a grasshopper (with a wooden leg).
At Glinda's palace in the Quadling Country of Oz, the Scarecrow learns of these events from the Great Book of Records. Glinda sends the Scarecrow to Jinxland with some magic to help. Once in Jinxland, the Scarecrow runs into difficulties with King Krewl, and faces immolation; the Ork and fifty of his compatriots arrive to dispose of the villains and rescue the heroes. The Scarecrow, using Glinda's magic, shrinks Blinkie until she reverses her spell on Gloria and returns the Cap'n to human form (the witch is left small and devoid of magic).
Gloria assumes the Jinxland throne and selects Pon as her consort. The Scarecrow and the humans go to the Emerald City for a congratulatory celebration with Dorothy Gale, Betsy Bobbin, Hank the Mule, the Tin Woodman, the Cowardly Lion, and Toto. Ozma invites the visitors to stay and become citizens of Oz.
- Cap'n Bill
- Flipper the Ork
- The Bumpy Man
- Pon the Gardener's Boy
- Princess Gloria
- King Krewl and Googly-Goo
- The Scarecrow
- Dorothy Gale, Betsy Bobbin, and Ozma
- The Sawhorse
- Guests at the royal reception, including the Tin Woodman, Jack Pumpkinhead, Professor Wogglebug, Tik-Tok, the Shaggy Man and his brother, Uncle Henry and Aunt Em, the Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger, Eureka the Pink Kitten, the Nine Tiny Piglets, Hank, Toto, the Woozy, and the Wizard of Oz
Trot and Cap'n Bill enter the Oz story in this book, after their appearances in The Sea Fairies and Sky Island. Trot would be the last American child that Baum would introduce into Oz; no new arrivals occur in his last five books.
The Scarecrow of Oz was based, in part, on a silent film produced by the Oz Film Manufacturing Company entitled His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz. Like the prior Oz book, Tik-Tok of Oz, (another work that originated as a drama), Scarecrow of Oz contains an element of adult romance (Gloria and Pon) that earlier Oz books routinely omitted. The child's viewpoint of this romance stuff is not neglected, though: when Gloria complains of her frustrated love for Pon, Trot "soothingly" replies, "Well, never mind; Pon isn't any great shakes, anyhow, seems to me...There are lots of other people you can love." (Chapter 12)
Due to disappointing sales of Tik-Tok in the previous year, Reilly & Britton made a greater effort in advertising and promotion for The Scarecrow of Oz. This included the problematical Oz Toy Book. The promotional effort was not very fruitful: Scarecrow of Oz sold roughly 14,300 copies in its first year in print, only a few more than Tik-Tok of Oz had done. In time, though, Scarecrow would become one of the best-selling Oz books.
For King Phearse, compare King Gruph in "The Witchcraft of Mary-Marie."
Phyllis Ann Karr's 1988 novel The Gardener's Boy of Oz is a sequel to The Scarecrow of Oz.
- Katharine M. Rogers. L. Frank Baum, Creator of Oz: A Biography. New York, St. Martin's Press, 2002.
|L. Frank Baum's original Oz books|