The Scarecrow of Oz

The Scarecrow of Oz by L. Frank Baum,
illustrated by John R. Neill.
Reilly & Britton, 1915.
Books of Wonder edition, William Morrow and Company, 1997.

No big reading round-up for you today, although I'm happy to report that Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times was as fun to read as the cover would have you believe.  The girls and I are off for a weekend adventure, but coming with us is our bedtime reading, The Scarecrow of Oz.



{I have not written an Oz post since MARCH.  Can you believe it?!}

It may have taken us half the year to read Tik-Tok of Oz, but we're moving pretty quickly through this one, the ninth in the series.  The Scarecrow of Oz was published a year after the Oz Film Manufacturing Company's movie His Majesty, the Scarecrow of Oz.  Other notable facts about Scarecrow:

  • It is the book that brings Trot and Cap'n Bill, the main characters from his two favorite non-Oz titles, The Sea Fairies and Sky Island, to the land of Oz.  [I have yet to read either book.]
  • It was Baum's favorite Oz book.
  • Trot is the last child from the mortal world to come to Oz.  

While the Scarecrow is the title character and hero of the story, it takes an incredibly long time for him to make his appearance.  We meet Trot and Cap'n Bill on the first page, and immediately, the action begins.  A whirlpool carries them off, but thanks to the protection of invisible mermaids, they survive the ordeal.  They find a cavern and soon, make the acquaintance of an Ork, a strange flying creature with no feathers, but with a propeller tail and four strange disc-like wings.




This book has so much plot, I am exhausted attempting to summarize it!  The trio find an island inhabited by a cranky man named Pessim, a mountain in the Land of Mo where it rains lemonade and snows popcorn, and on the mountain, they find little Button Bright, who traveled with Dorothy, the Shaggy Man, and Polychrome on The Road to Oz.  


Eventually, the three humans hitch a ride with three overgrown birds (thanks, magic berries), dangling from swings(!) between the birds' legs, with the Ork leading the way.  They wind up in a secluded country in the land of Oz called Jinxland, dealing with corrupt kings, separated lovers, and a witch named Blinkie, who turns Cap'n Bill into a grasshopper.



And in Glinda's palace in the Quadling Country, reading all about these events in Glinda's magic book, is the beloved Scarecrow, who sets off to save the day.





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It's been nearly five years since I read this one to Big Sis the first time, and we're only as far as the flight into Oz, so I'm rattling off what details I can remember.  If memory serves me, there are a lot of twists and turns in Jinxland, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the book again.

And here is the film that came before it.  As far as prints go, this one is decent and the music that accompanies it is very nice.  Amazing to think it was made 100 years ago!




The next book in the series is also the last one I own, as of right now:  Rinkitink in Oz.  The girls are getting antsy for book 11, The Lost Princess of Oz.  It's the first Oz book Big Sis truly remembers from the first time we read the books, and it's a fun one.  So many favorite characters, some entertaining new ones, and some of my favorite John R. Neill illustrations...  Must finish this one, then must plow through Rinkitink.  Must get Lost Princess.  Thank goodness I have a birthday coming soon...

Merry Weekend!  Happy Reading!


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Have You Seen My Dragon?



One of our favorite books we read this year is Zephyr Takes Flight by Steve Light [see here], not too surprising considering my littlest daughter's fascination with all things airplane-related.  As we browsed the new release picture book shelf at the library last week, Big Sis saw this book and asked if we could check it out.  I had read about it somewhere - the cover was familiar - and said, sure.  It wasn't until we read the book that I realized that the author-illustrator was none other than the man behind Zephyr.

Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light.
Candlewick Press, 2014.  


The book is relatively simple.  The little boy asks someone if they've seen his dragon.  He thinks of a new place the dragon might be, and heads there to look.  It's also a counting book.  The illustrations are in detailed black and white, with the object(s) being counted in color.







My daughters may be too old for a counting book, but they will never outgrow fabulous illustrations.  And who can outgrow a travelogue?  Because before you know it, Light has taken you on a tour of New York City!  Every place where the boy looks for his dragon is a location in New York.  The endpapers outline each place the boy visits.


Can you guess where the boy finally finds his dragon?  Note the style of dragon...


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Gaston


My girls are getting older, and while we love to read our "big kid books," either together or separately, we still have a healthy appreciation for beautiful picture books.  

We have about ten checked out from the library at any given time.  As far as recent releases go, this one is especially wonderful.


Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio,
illustrated by Christian Robinson.
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2014.
First of all, look at that cover.  I think it's perfectly safe to do away with that "Don't judge a book by its cover" cliche.  I would frame a print of this cover and hang it on my wall, wouldn't you?  


(Don't judge the book by my photographs.  I had trouble with lighting yesterday.)


 Mama Poodle has four puppies.  One of the puppies, Gaston, doesn't look or act like the others.  He is sloppy and clumsy and loud.


But Mrs. Poodle loves all of her pups, and being different only makes Gaston work harder at being graceful and quiet.

Then one day, on a trip to the park, the poodles meet a bulldog family.  A bulldog family with a familiar "problem."



Mrs. Poodle and Mrs. Bulldog agree that there seems to have been a mix-up, and decide to try switching their odd pups.  Despite their outward appearances, though:



They continue the switch at home, but things do not go well.  Antoinette may have been a gentle poodle on the outside, but she was much more of a bulldog than Gaston.


And Gaston was raised to be gentle and quiet, and clearly did not fit in with the other bulldogs.


Their mothers missed their own misfit pups, as well.  The next day, they race to the park, agreeing they had made a mistake.


The book has an adorable surprise ending that I won't spoil here.

The text is breezy and fun.  We enjoyed the story very much.

Now let's talk illustrations.

I'm in love with these pictures.  I love the colors, the brushstrokes.  I'm about to check out the most recent picture book about Josephine Baker, also illustrated by Christian Robinson.  I think he is poised to become one of my favorites.  Check out his website, which includes a page full of animations.

Big Sis wants "a Gaston puppy."  Both girls love bulldogs, although really, Little Sis is afraid of dogs.  She did, however, actually pet a bulldog at the KC Renaissance Festival last fall, because it shared her first name! Unfortunately, I've been told that bulldogs may not be the best choice for families.  They tend to be "one person dogs."  Anyone out there care to chime in?  We won't be getting a dog for a while yet, and it will definitely have to be a smaller dog that will spend most of its time indoors.  I'm trying to get the girls to understand that it will probably be a mixed-breed from a shelter, and that they shouldn't become too set on specific breed.

Anyhoo, we're heading back to the library today.  More holds have arrived, I have stuff to return, and I need out of the house!  I have strep throat again.  I've been on antibiotics for 2 days now, so I'm no longer contagious.  My doc wants me to see an ENT specialist.  She thinks I might need to have my tonsils out. Um, yay?

I'll have another cool recently-released picture book to share with you tomorrow!

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