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The Scarecrow of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Though it is not usually ranked among the most famous Oz stories by L. Frank Baum, The Scarecrow of Oz is just as brilliant as the other, more famous stories. The ninth book the action of which takes place in the wonderful Land of Oz was the author's personal favorite and it is indeed a masterpiece. The mix of Oz and non-Oz characters into one story was the result of the request made by Baum's readers and a great invention that gave birth to a story that captivates any reader, child and adult alike.
The story is eventful and quick-paced, but it is interesting to note that the Scarecrow himself makes his appearance only in the second half of the book. Up to that point, the story revolves around a girl called Trot and her friend, Cap'n Bill, a former sailor with a wooden leg - two characters the reader might be familiar with from Baum's other, non-Oz stories. The two are out on a rowboat trip when the weather turns stormy, a whirlpool appears and they get lost in it to find themselves in the Land of Oz, wondering about, meeting magical characters.
The creatures they encounter are really amazing - we see orks (for Baum, an ork is a helpful being, not the monsters we have been used to ever since Tolkien), magical berries that can make the eater grow, others that will have the opposite effect, shrinking the creature consuming them, strange birds, we have the wicked witch and the Scarecrow himself - the favorite character of many Oz enthusiasts.
All Oz books, the Scarecrow included, are timeless pieces, teaching the reader about friendship, emotions, love and many other important things - and all these in an unnoticeable way, entertaining both children and adult readers with the most colorful fantasy setting ever.
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