One day Dorothy is sitting with Toto on her farm in Kansas, when a Shaggy Man appears and asks the way to Butterfield. Dorothy agrees to help, despite...moreOne day Dorothy is sitting with Toto on her farm in Kansas, when a Shaggy Man appears and asks the way to Butterfield. Dorothy agrees to help, despite the fact he is very unkempt and shaggy. The Shaggy Man insists that she is helping him due to the fact he has the "Love Magnet" and all who meet him must therefore love him and do his bidding. Yet on the way to the road to Butterfield a strange thing happens, where once there was one road there are now many. Dorothy knows the signs of the start of adventure, she has been on four previous ones. She informs the Shaggy Man that they must just go along for the ride, because an adventure they must have.
Along the way they pick up several travelling companions, Button-Bright, the boy who doesn't know where he's from, and Polychrome, the daughter of the rainbow, who accidentally fell off. They also meet some odd people as well. The Fox-King is so certain that foxes are superior, he turns Button-Bright into a fox, while the Donkey king is so convinced donkeys are superior, he turns the Shaggy Man into a man with the head of a Donkey. They also meet the Musicker, the man who makes music which each breath and annoys them all beyond measure. They also encounter an entire race of people who purposefully live their lives invisible to avoid the danger of the Scoodlers and being eaten by them. Luckily they finally reach the border of the great desert that Oz is bounded by. Because of course all fairy lands lead to Oz. With the help of Johnny Dooit, they cross the vast desert, return to themselves via a pond of truth and make it in time for Ozma's birthday party in the Emerald City. It was Ozma after all who started Dorothy on the road to yet another journey.
This is easily the book of Oz I dislike the most. I mean, all Oz has something to offer, being Oz... but here there is nothing. First, let's look at the way the book is bound. It is gimmickly printed on many different colored paper stocks, changing to green once we're in Oz. Also it references their journey, each task or event being a different color and the fact that the rainbow's daughter is their dew drinking travelling companion. Blurg is what I say. It seems it was a gimmick that was thought up and then the book was written around it.
Yet, the gimmickry that is used to package the book, that of which I'm sure that humbug of a wizard would approve, isn't my main problem. My main problem isn't even the fact that we have yet another book that ends in a party. Because parties ending books can be fun, the party just can't be the purpose of the book, which it is here. Also, I don't take undue measures to point out how creepy the "Love Magnet" is... really it's just a way to take away free will, and the fact it's used on a child... hmmm and ewwww and no. My main problem is Dorothy's superiority complex. I know I have mentioned before how annoying all the characters going on about how wonderful they are is, but here it's not just self contained. It's not just one person bragging, it's Dorothy actually being mean to the Shaggy Man. She's insulting to almost everyone she comes across and it really made me want to slap her. Just because she's been on all these adventures and is the especial friend of Ozma doesn't mean everyone else is dirt. Her "friends" got turned into a fox and a donkey because they where a little too sure of their awesomeness. I wish somehow Dorothy could be smacked down a peg. I think I realize every time I read these books that more and more the world needed Gregory Maguire to smack some sense into Oz and show what a ruby slippered tyrant that little Dorothy was.(less)
Dorothy once again ends up in the land of Oz because of a natural disaster. This time it isn't a storm at sea or a tornado. This time the ground liter...moreDorothy once again ends up in the land of Oz because of a natural disaster. This time it isn't a storm at sea or a tornado. This time the ground literally opens at her feet from an earthquake and down she tumbles. She was on the way with her new kitten Eureka to meet up with her Uncle at his Brother-in-Laws ranch in California after the long trip back from Australia when Dorothy, her cousin Zeb, and the horse and buggy went a tumbling down. And they tumble and tumble, falling far but apparently not increasing in speed. They seem to be slowing down. A weird fairy world appears below them illuminated by multicolored suns where all the buildings are glass and gravity seems far more flexible. Also as it's a fairy world Jim the horse pulling the buggy and Eureka soon start chatting away. The people whom they descend on aren't at all pleased with their arrival. The Mangaboos quickly take the trespassers off to their wizard when whom should appear above? Dorthy's own wonderful wizard of Oz!
The Wizard has good timing and not only saves them all from the Mangaboos' wizard, but performs some wonderful humbug magic with nine cute little piglets, that Eureka thinks looks decidedly tasty. The Mangaboos are a strange and cold people, it's like they have no blood, which it turns out they don't, being vegetables! They soon revolt and throw the motley crew out of their land, wherein their true adventure begins, travelling through a land of invisible people where invisible bears are there, oh my. Wooden gargoyles and dragonettes all block the path on their way out of the center of the earth. Luckily when all seems lost, the deus ex machina of Oz swings fully into action and the wizard returns to the land he belongs in.
Looking back on this book I have this odd memory of hating it. Maybe that belief let me free up my expectations and just love it. The wizard is an unlikable humbug, Zeb doesn't do much, Jim the horse has to do the majority of the heavy lifting, but Eureka and the piggies are a delight in this odd comical children's version of what Journey to the Center of the Earth would mean to them. There's a Roald Dahl playfulness that is sometimes lacking in the earlier books that has Baum almost forcing the plot and the characters to interact. Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz felt like it just flowed from his pen. Though I do still have Dorothy issues. Dorothy, in another sign of her egocentrism, never thinks of what hell she's putting her family through until she gets bored and it's time to go home. Her Aunt and Uncle where actually MOURNING HER! Full on, black mourning. She almost killed her Uncle with her disappearance on the way to Australia, where they where going for HIS health, and here it is a few months later and she scares them again. There really needs to be a way to not scare the heck out of these good Kansas farm folk. Also, in a total non sequitur, how stupid is Toto? All other animals get to Oz or a fairy land and start chattering away, yet Toto never spoke once in the first book. He must be a total dullard.
Enough odd rantings, I want to state clearly why this book is the best Oz book. Eureka! This kitty cat is all the best qualities of cats, which none cat lovers will probably see as negatives, not understanding the subtlety of cat awesomeness. She's manipulative, vain, only out for herself and never hides the fact that she wants to eat those pork filled piggies. Everyone in Oz always extols their virtues and how wonderful they are, showing them to be pompous asses. Eureka just is. No one really likes her, no one really cares to have her around, but she never justifies, never apologizes, and just is. She won't even defend herself when she is brought to trial on charges of murder (one of the piggies of course). If all the characters would just learn to "be" this series would work so much better. Don't talk about it, don't extol, just be. And if you can, be a cat.(less)
The Marvelous Land of Oz Date I read this book: September 24th, 2011 ★
Tip lives with the wicked witch Mombi. Though she's not technically allowed to cal...moreThe Marvelous Land of Oz Date I read this book: September 24th, 2011 ★
Tip lives with the wicked witch Mombi. Though she's not technically allowed to call herself a witch, she is truly wicked. Tip has been with her as long as he remembers. Basically a glorified slave or indentured servant, Tip takes every opportunity to get one over on Mombi. So one day when she heads over to a neighboring warlock's house to swap secrets, Tip laboriously creates Jack Pumpkinhead. Jack is a tall scarecrow like creation with a face carved out of a pumpkin with a maniacal grin. Tip even gives Jack working joints. Tip places Jack where he's sure he will startle Mombi on her return. Mombi is a hard one to scare, so instead she sees in Jack the perfect experiment. She has just gotten some "Powder of Life" and decides to test one of her precious three doses on Jack. It works marvelously. Jack is brought to life. What's more, Jack will be a far better servant than Tip, who has to eat and sleep, so Tip is thrown out. As revenge Tip steals the "Powder of Life" and Jack and heads south in order to find a new life in the Emerald City of Oz.
Soon it become apparent that Jack isn't as well made as Tip thought he was. He might rot or his joints might break from all the walking. Tip decides that Jack needs a stead, and makes a saw horse come to life as a real horse. The three continue on their way to the Emerald City but are soon separated and set upon by an approaching army. General Jinjur and her comely all-girl army of revolt are on their way to the Emerald City to depose the Scarecrow and claim the city and all it's jewels for themselves, armed only with their indignation that they have to do all the household work and knitting needles. Jinjer is successful in becoming queen, but she soon looses her Scarecrow captive who, with the help of Tip and his unlikely allies, rescues the Scarecrow and heads off to the Tin Man's Empire, where dear old Nick Chopper is a benevolent leader to the Winkie's, unlike the Wicked Witch before him. Soon the motley crew is planning on reclaiming the thrown, but things never go to plan... and it soon falls to Glinda to straighten things out and bring back the rightful ruler of Oz, Ozma, who has been missing these many years.
This book sets out to establish more of a history to Oz, with it's hidden princess and the evils the Wizard of Oz wrought, some with Mombi's assistance. The fault though lies in the fact there is no Dorothy. Dorothy was our access into the world, because she, like us, is an outsider. We have no literary conduit, instead we have a rag-tag group of self centered and self impressed asses. Each character spends almost the entire time saying how they are better that the others. The Scarecrow has the best brains, but Nick assures him, that without a great heart like his, he's nothing. How are these people friends? They never converse, they only shout monologues out into the air and occasionally they offend someone and use their superiority as an excuse. They grate on the readers nerves. But the egocentric character flaws are nothing compared to General Jinjer.
General Jinjer and her very attractive army are my problem! They are all "very attractive" and no longer want to do "women's work" so with a symbol of their imprisonment they march on the Emerald City, knitting needles in hand. Why do they really want the throne? For the jewels of course! For Baum, who was supposedly a big supporter of the Suffragettes, his depiction of these soldiers is rather sexist. They just want to be lazy and pretty, but are easily defeated the first time because some mice scare them. Talk about stereotype! Also, the women of Oz gladly taking back their chores at the end of the book because their husbands where useless, seems... stupid. It says to anyone reading this book that girls are only good for domesticity. Which is odd considering that the power base of Glinda is based on girl power as well... but a far more dangerous sword wielding kind. But Glinda's army is an army to maintain the status quo. But the status is not quo. This book implies that women should stay home and only take up arms if that status is upset. EXCUSE ME! Fight for your right for household chores? Mr. Baum, I think you really need to look to yourself. I think you're a hypocrite and I think this might be the worst Oz novel, if I remember correctly from my previous readings.
Ozma of Oz Date I read this book: November 6th, 2011 ★★★
Dorothy and her Uncle are headed to Australia for his health. The sea voyage turns into a harrowing experience when Dorothy is blown overboard. The plucky little girl from Kansas is resourceful and is able to cling to a chicken coop and ride through the storm, soaking wet, but without fear. This is just the beginning of another adventure. Come morning she is making for landfall in what she takes to be a fairy land. It isn't Oz, because Oz is surrounded by a deadly desert on all sides, but it is most definitely fairy, how else would the chicken Billina be able to talk to her. Animals only talk in fairy worlds. Soon after landing the fact that this world is magical is increased by a tree that grows lunch pails, men called wheelers who have wheels on there hands and feet and a windup man, Tik-Tok, who works through his wonderful engineering.
Once Dorothy gathers a posse, she heads inland to the capital city where the royal family have been enslaved by the evil Nome King and the country is run by a vain relative of the royals, Princess Langwidere, who has a room full of heads that she switches out whenever she wants to be prettier, or in a different frame of mind, that raven haired head sure has a temper. Soon all the denizens of Oz arrive in this land, which, as Dorothy surmised, was close but not Oz. Dorothy is reunited with all her friends and finally meets Ozma, whom she becomes fast friends with. The delegation from Oz has come to rescue the royal family after hearing of their plight. They all set out for the Nome King's domain to find that he is a tricky and conniving man who will twist any situation around to his advantage. Yet, never underestimate a plucky chicken from Kansas!
Back when the Oz books where being re-released and I was starting my journey into reading I totally held this as my favorite Oz book. But looking back I realize it's less because of the book and more because of the movie Return to Oz. When I was little I remember finding a comic book adaptation of the movie in my school library. I remember reading it up to where Dorothy leaves the asylum. Also being extremely traumatized by it. Dorothy going to get electroshock treatment was enough to do permanent psychological damage to me. After I read the comic the first time I was never able to find it in the library again. I cannot account for that, but it made me start to think I had made the whole thing up and that, like Dorothy, Oz, like this comic, wasn't real.
Of course I got a little older and realized that it was a movie, which also traumatized me. Take the wheelers, add in a psycho who keeps heads in glass cases and switches them like we would clothes, and it was the stuff of nightmares. When I finally got to read the books I realized that this movie was an amalgam of The Marvelous Land of Oz and Ozma of Oz, more heavily influenced by Ozma. But the movie took the best bits and omitted all the boring stuff. If there's one thing that annoys me about Oz it's that every time we have a reunion of the characters it's unendurably long with lots of crying and kissing and discussing how they are better than everyone else. Because, these characters really think they are awesome. I'm surprised all the egos fit in one room! But despite all the faults, every time I read about the tree with lunch pails growing from it and the wheelers and the castle of the Nome King with people being turned into knickknacks, it takes me back to my childhood. This is a book for nostalgia, the horror and the magic that lives when you are young, and to get that back, even for a few minutes, is magic indeed.(less)
Everyone knows The Wizard of Oz. Or at least everyone thinks they do. Let me disabuse you of a few notions. There are no ruby slippers. The flying mon...moreEveryone knows The Wizard of Oz. Or at least everyone thinks they do. Let me disabuse you of a few notions. There are no ruby slippers. The flying monkeys aren't the creatures of the Wicked Witch, they only answer to her because of a golden cap. The Tin Man cut off his own limps because of an enchanted ax and has a bit of a problem with wanting to chop off other creatures heads French Revolution style. The Emerald City is only Emerald colored because of a nice little trick with colored glass. Likewise, the Wicked With isn't mentioned as being green, only having the deformity of a single eye. Glinda the good witch doesn't meet Dorthy at the start of the Yellow Brick road, but only till the Wizard is gone and Dorothy journeys to the land of the Quadlings. There are no lions and tigers and bears oh my, or manic singing. There aren't a lot of things that where changed to make cinema magic. And finally, it wasn't all just a dream.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was written in an attempt to create a new class of Fairy Tales distinctly American. I can think of no other literary character so closely connected to America, except perhaps Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. Dorothy is an icon in literature, which is why it's frustrating that not more people have read the book and rely on the film to know about Oz. The story is a cute little voyage of discovery where Dorothy lands in a magical utopia that is very primary color based (all the countries really LOVE their color) and meets a few friends and gives them a better life and then gets her wish to go home. Because, while a fairyland is well and good, the movie did get it right that "there's no place like home." Or at least, not until the depression comes and your whole family moves to Oz to be treated as royalty... (less)