Young Trot and the old captain, peg-legged Cap'n Bill, might seem like odd friends, but they are constant companions and Cap'n Bill taught her to love and appreciate the ocean. Trot was especially fascinated by the idea of mermaids and talked about them often with Cap'n Bill, who warned that no one who had met a mermaid had ever lived to tell the tale. One day while out sailing around, the pair is greeted by a beautiful mermaid who extends an invitation for them to come and visit their underwater kingdom and even become mermaids themselves for the adventure.
Trot and Cap'n Bill meet a wonderful variety of characters along their underwater adventure - eels and codfish and crabs, among others. After a marvelous and exciting time with the mermaids, the only mystery left is whether or not they will be the first to live to tell the tale of meeting the mermaids!
L. Frank Baum (1856-1919) was an American author of children's books, most famous for his The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Baum wrote 13 sequels to his first Oz book and still has a huge fan base to this day. Trot and Cap'n Bill also appear in other books by Baum, outside of their underwater adventures!
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One of the 'Expanded Universe' stories of Oz
I deeply enjoyed the Sea Fairies the first time I read it on my Kindle. When I found out there was an audiobook for it, and that it wasn't all that pricey, I grabbed it, and I'm glad I did.
L. Frank Baum created a pearl with this tale of the ocean, and the mermaids, while introducing the characters of Cap'n Bill and Trot, whom his readers at the time enjoyed nearly as much as Dorothy Gale. Sadly, as more and more knowledge of Oz has dwindled over time, limited pretty much to the various movies and cartoons (which isn't necessarily a bad thing), Baum's amazing talent has largely faded into obscurity.
If you're also someone who delights in a good villain, Baum offers up one of his most interesting in this story, in the form of Zog the Magician, who is part man, part bird, part beast, part reptile, part fish! He is 27,000 years old, and full of malicious evil.
While there is very dated use of certain words (such as gay meaning happy, and queer meaning strange), if one listens to this story with a mind toward the time in which it was written, then you're very likely to enjoy this story as much I do.
One of the most memorable moments in this story? One such moment might be at the beginning, when Cap'n Bill is telling old horror stories of mermaids to Trot, until the mermaids show up for real, and the salty old sea captain is forced to confront some of his oldest fears.
Another moment is when he discovers that his older brother, long believed deceased, is found to have been living under the sea, having been given gills by this novel's notable villain, Zog the Magician.
I honestly can't pick a top favorite scene, for there were several gripping and exciting moments. Encountering the sea serpent, King Anko, definitely ranks up there, as he 'corrects' Trot and Cap'n Bill's views of history, since he was there!
I did listen to this book in one sitting, except when nature called, because no one wants that caller to leave a message!
If you're wondering where this story takes place in the Oz timeline, I would say it most likely falls between the 4th and 5th Oz books, "Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz" and "The Road to Oz". I strongly urge you to listen to this book, as well as its sequel, "Sky Island". Baum brilliantly tied the two 'Trot and Cap'n Bill' books into the Oz timeline with the 9th book in the series, "The Scarecrow of Oz".
I plan on introducing these classics to my daughter when she's a little older, rather than the crap of today like 'Spongebob'.
- Cam T.