Another trip to Oz for Dorothy and Toto lovers will be pleased to hear that her little dog is along for the ride again this time.Speaking of Toto, I m slightly puzzled as to why every other animal arriving in Oz suddenly develops the capacity for human speech but Toto sticks to barks and woofs Perhaps he feels doggy talk is superior to people chatterI enjoyed most of the new characters introduced in this volume, particularly the Shaggy Man cripes, Scoob , but found Button Bright to be largely pointless Baum makes a big deal about his amnesia and I was expecting there to be some kind of revelation as to his true identity at some point, but it never arrived Still, this was an enjoyable adventure for the little ones, nonetheless. While not as dark as the last book, The Road to Oz has many similarities to Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz Again, our little heroine unintentionally sets off on a journey during which she meets a host of new characters, experiences a few easily overcome challenges, and ends up in Oz This time, though, there wasn t really any conflict and only one encounter with a malicious opponent on their travels The Shaggy Man was actually a bit creepy at the beginning my kids have been taught to run and find a parent if an adult they don t know asks them for directions , though, of course, he turned out all right Several of the new characters just stuck in my craw Button Bright was just annoyingIf he d said don t know one time I might have reached through the pages of the book and throttled him And what, pray tell, was Polychrome s purpose besides encouraging anorexia She was about as engaging as a piece of lint a very pretty, variegated piece of lint, to be sure, but stillblah.With these last two books it really seems that Mr Baum was frustrated in his desires to write something other than Oz books, so he decided to set the books elsewhere and just have the characters end up in Oz so he could slap those two letters on the cover of the book and make money while trying to branch out into other fairylands I enjoyed reading all these when I was a kid, and my kids are loving them now, but as an adult, they re wearing a bit thin.And I felt awfully bad for the poor Musicker, not getting an invite to Ozma s party No one, in a land where kindness and generosity are supposed to reign supreme, was even the tiniest bit kind to the poor guy who can t help making music.For book reviews, come visit my blog, Build Enough Bookshelves. Catching up with the classics 11Well just whimsical I always enjoy an Oz novel, even if it s the new Dorothy Must Die series, which one can appreciate so much the one reads these old school Baum books This time it is Ozma s birthday, so it s time to celebrate We meet some new friends while inviting some old favorites Such a quick read too So I hated this book Like a lot I got this way back in February and only finished it in July because I started going through my Kindle device and started downloading books to read back in February I originally only read 4 percent and said nope and put the book aside When I finished it in July I decided that was it for me, no Oz books The only saving grace is that I didn t pay money for it I got it for free on.Dorothy is still a pain in the butt who doesn t have the common sense to get out of the rain Her speaking is downright annoying at this point in the series I think I may have screamed enunciate at one point and screamed it so loud I blacked out We also have some new characters in this book called the Shaggy Man who I swear was about to do something awful to Dorothy, Button Bright, and Polychrome who is a daughter of the Rainbow What starts off this new adventure is that when Dorothy meets the Shaggy Man he asks her for directions, and instead of just giving them to this total stranger, she decides to show him the way I swear Dorothy needs to be held up as literary symbol to children to not ever do things like this when they are reading this book I mean in the book Dorothy calls the Shaggy Man stupid so she decides she must take him to Butterfield the place he is going and actually says out loud that the man is stupid After going down a path the 7th one the party of three comes upon Button Bright Once again we have Dorothy calling someone stupid after knowing them for all of five minutes.Eventually the foursome comes across a strange village of talking foxes and from there the story just progresses until they meet up with Polychrome Shockingly enough Dorothy doesn t call her stupid From there there is a just a series of adventures of the new group of five to get to The Emerald City where Dorothy surmises that Ozma of Oz will be able to help them all out.We have some reappearances of fan favorites of the series We have Billina the talking hen who to this day was the funniest character ever for reading Dorothy like she was a book.There was also Tik Tok who was sent off to fetch Dorothy by Ozma I did wonder why the heck Ozma didn t just magic herself to Dorothy and crew and magic them back to Emerald City, but hey that would have made the book end at about 60 percent which I would have been happy withlike a lot.We also have the Tin Man not a fan of his at all and he is still Emperor though there doesn t appear to be anyone else around in his castle It was so weird and I couldn t guess why and really didn t care at that point We even have The Cowardly Lion, the Tiger, and Jack in this one I loved them all in earlier works, but this one, eh not so much There really isn t anything new in this series at this point We have a series of adventures and Dorothy scolding people left, right, and sideways We have the not too bright character actually appearing to have some sense And we have everything wrapping up nicely in the end with another party in Oz. Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography cclapcenter.com I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP it is not being reprinted here illegally This review covers all 14 of the Baum Oz books, which is why it s found on all 14 book pages here I think it s fairly safe by now to assume that nearly everyone in Western society is familiar with The Wizard of Oz, most of us because of the classic 1939 movie adaptation and many realize as well that author L Frank Baum ended up penning a whole series of sequels, because of the original book s astounding success back at the turn of the 20th century when it was first published 13 sequels altogether, before his death in 1919, which after the movie s success twenty years later became a literal merchandising empire, spawning hundreds official sequels by various authors and hundreds unofficial ones once the characters moved into the public domain And like many others, I ve always been interested in what these 14 canonical Oz books have to say and that s why I decided this winter to sit down and read them all in a row for the first time, easy to do because of them being available for free at both Project Gutenberg and the email subscription service DailyLit which is how I myself read them, and in fact is how I read many of the older books you see reviewed here I m a big fan of theirs, and highly recommend them.But of course, to even approach these books with the right mindset, it s important to understand that like so many other one hit wonders, Baum was not only eluded by success in most of his other endeavors but was an active failure at them in the 1870s, for example, he unsuccessfully tried his hand at breeding fancy poultry a national fad at the time , then in the 1880s opened his own theatre and became one of the first ever Americans to produce modern style stage musicals, apparently a little too ahead of its time, then in the 1890s moved to the Dakota Territory and opened a dry goods store that eventually failed, as well as starting a newspaper that folded too So it was sort of a case of random lightning in a bottle when he decided in the late 1890s to try his hand at children s literature, and ended up with his very first title being the most popular kid s book in America for two years straight, and no surprise that Baum then spent the rest of his life desperately trying to figure out how to bottle that lightning again Because now that I ve read it myself, I can confirm that the original Wonderful Wizard of Oz is astonishingly great, a sort of miraculous combination of traits that makes for an almost perfect children s story and although most of it follows the same storyline seen in the 39 movie, there are also significant differences, making it worth your while to sit and read the book version if you have the interest And by the way, for some really interesting reading, check out the academic analysis that was done of this book in the 1960s, arguing that most of its details symbolically correspond almost exactly to various political and economic issues of the late 1800s, including the yellow brick road representing the much discussed gold standard of that age, the scarecrow representing the then hot Populist Party, Toto representing the teetotaler prohibitionist movement, and a lot But of course, there are a couple of details about this book that have been forgotten over the decades too, which also help explain its record shattering success it was an unusually lavish book for its time, for example, with two toned illustrations on every page and several full color plates, and let s also not forget that Baum himself mounted a Broadway style musical of Oz just two years after the book was published, a huge hit which toured nationally for a decade and that was even insanely popular than the book itself including making national stars out of vaudeville performers Fred Stone and David Montgomery, playing the Scarecrow and Tin Man the stage production left out the Cowardly Lion altogether, which is why he is also barely seen in any of the 13 canonical sequels And so that s why when Baum attempted starting up other fantasy series in the wake of Oz s success, hoping to turn all of them into lucrative franchises like the original, the audience mostly responded with yawns and that s why Baum eventually went back to writing and Oz books as the 20th century continued, because by now the strength of the brand far outweighed the relative writing skills of Baum when it came to any particular volume.That s why, at least to adults, it s perhaps actually the introductions to each book that are the most fascinating thing about them because to be frank, most of the books follow a pretty familiar formula, with a danger filled quest involving various kooky characters that is usually finished about two thirds of the way through, followed by a massive parade or party that lets Baum trot out the growing number of main characters added to this universe with each title And by the way, prepare yourself for Baum s unending love of the deus ex machina plot device over half the books end along the lines of, And then our heroes took possession of a super duper magical device, which they waved in the air and all their troubles went away In fact, for those who don t know, that s why the official map of Oz and its surrounding lands eventually grew so large, because Baum still hadn t given up on his dream of having a whole series of kid lit cash cows out there generating revenue for him, and so would use many of these Oz sequels to introduce entirely new casts of characters who live in entirely new lands, just over the mountains or just past the desert of Oz itself By the end of the original 14 books, in fact, Baum had built up a virtual aristocracy of licensable characters, all of whom would have to be dragged out for a cameo at some point in each book to remind the audience of their existence not just the cast of the original book and 39 movie but also various other princesses like Ozma and Betsy Bobbin, boy characters like Ojo the Unlucky and Button Bright, adults who help them like the Shaggy Man, Cap n Bill and Ugu the Shoemaker, and of course a whole litany of quirky fantastical sidekicks, including but not limited to Tik Tok, Jack Pumpkinhead, the Great Jinjin, Billina the Angry Hen, Scraps the Patchwork Girl, and Polychrome the Rainbow Fairy Whew And so did the Great Oz Merchandising Experiment keep limping along for two decades, with each sequel selling less and less and getting lazier and lazier for example, the tenth book in the series, 1916 s Rinkitink in Oz, was actually a non Oz book written a decade previous, published almost unchanged except for a hasty final chapter full of Oz regulars slapped onto the end and thus did Baum s bad luck in business come back with a vengeance as well, with three Broadway productions that were all flops, and even the establishment of a film production company in 1914 that eventually went bankrupt.You can see the progression of all this reflected in Baum s first person introductions to each book, which like I said is why they might be the most fascinating parts of all for adult readers how in the first sequel, for example, he expresses legitimately gleeful surprise and joy at how passionate his fans were, and how thousands of children had literally written to him out of the blue demanding Oz stories, while with each subsequent sequel his tone becomes and snarky, ala Well, dear and wonderful children, you ve yet again demanded another Oz book like the sheep you are, so here it is, you screeching little monsters In fact, in book six of the series, 1910 s The Emerald City of Oz, Baum flat out states that it s going to be the very last Oz book, and it s no coincidence that many fans actually consider this one to be the best of the original fourteen, because of Baum s extra attention to and enthusiasm for this particular storyline, thinking as he erroneously did that it would be the grand finale of the entire Oz universe but after his later financial failures forced him back into the Oz business again, the gloves finally come off in his introductions, with most of the rest sounding to today s ears something like, Well, okay, here again is the sugary teat you all apparently can t get enough of suckling, you infuriating little animals, so open wide and take your medicine Now, of course, you shouldn t feel too bad for Baum by the last years of his life, his combined books and plays were generating for him in today s terms roughly a quarter million dollars a year just in personal royalties.So all in all, an experience I m glad I had, reading all fourteen original Oz books in a row, but not something I d recommend to others instead, maybe better just to read the first, then skip to the sixth, then skip straight to the 14th, 1920 s Glinda of Oz, because of its unusual darkness probably caused, many scholars agree, by Baum knowing that he was near death As with many authors I ve looked at here at CCLaP, history seems to have correctly adjusted itself in Baum s case, with most of his books now rightfully falling into the obscurity they deserve, even while his one true masterpiece is still rightfully recognized as such. So im reading all the Oz books plus the side books but feeling a little sick so review to come when i m feeling better Meet Dorothy S New Friends, The Shaggy Man, Button Bright And Polychrome, As You Travel With Them To The Emerald City Share Their Adventures With The Musicker And The Scoodlers See How They Escape From The Soup Kettle And What They Found At The Truth Pond Find Out How They Are Able To Cross The Deadly Desert And Finally Get To The Emerald City Of Oz 3.5 StarsDorothy gets lost about 15 minutes away from her house in Kansas after she decides to help a stranger, Shaggy Man, get to Butterfield One thing leads to another and she s no longer in Kansas any.As the Shaggy Man and Dorothy try to find their way, they meet up with other individuals who have lost their way Button Bright and Polychrome the daughter of the rainbow.Their adventures include the secret behind the love magnet, entering the town of Foxville, the queen of the Scoodlers, the Truth Pond, Ozma s birthday Party, why the way to Butterfield got split 7 ways, etc..I got bored at some of the story because the general story arc moving from town to town was similar to other Oz books, but I particularly enjoyed some things that were revealed closer to the end that I wasn t expecting.This is a rather fun kid s story, and one day I plan to finish reading all of the Oz books. This, is, quite frankly, the worst of all the Oz books I ve read I got the feeling that, by the end, Baum was bored with writing it and just stopped trying It starts rather disturbingly in that Dorothy walks away from her farm alone with a stranger called The Shaggy Man who says that he s lost and needs directions Since Dorothy has no sense at all of stranger danger, she goes off with this man who swears that he has a love magnet that attracts everyone to him Eventually, he leads Dorothy into his cottage in the woods, tortures her, chops her up, and eats her Wait No That last bit didn t happen, much to the reader s surprise.Instead, the 2 wander along, both lost Dorothy assumes the road they ve taken must lead to Oz because she always ends up there when she gets lost Along the way, they meet many new people as usual in these novels , several of which tell her to ask Ozma if it would be okay if they came to Ozma s birthday party Before long, the journey turns into a journey to attend Ozma s birthday party I m always impressed with Baum s ability to create memorable characters The most significant new character that Dorothy meets on the road to Oz is The Rainbow s Daughter who is named Polychrome My daughter insists that she must dress as Polychrome next Halloween Once the traveling group arrives in Oz, Baum spends chapter after chapter after chapter after chapter after chapter having every person from the previous 4 books show up to the party along with several new ones The interesting thing is that, even though some of the characters only appeared briefly in some of the other books of the series, they re all instantly memorable when they arrive for the party I marvel at Baum s ability to create such a plethora of memorable characters, fully and memorably fleshing each of them out in just a paragraph or 2 when they re first introduced But reading about each of them arriving to Ozma s party for chapter on end without any plot made me wonder if it became as much of a chore for Baum to write as it was for me to read Even the events of the party were written without any feeling The last part of the book was very much told rather than shown It feels as if Baum was too bored with the book to bother writing by the time he got to the birthday party scene.By the time all of the characters showed up to the party, I wasn t surprised at all that Santa Claus showed up as well We ll have to read Baum s The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus in December Perhaps that shall be interesting.Other than meeting The Rainbow s Daughter, I could have skipped this book It may be quite a while before I m tempted to move forward with the series I probably will eventually, but I doubt it will be any time soon. I ve been reading my way through the Oz books lately in order to fill in some gaps of children s literature I d missed as a kid I wasn t too happy with the previous story because it felt like Baum didn t really feel any of it and just wrote Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz because he was pressured by a publisher as well as ravenous fans who wrote him imploring for Oz I found myself than a little peeved that he allowed children to dictate what he put in his book Sure, he pleased his fans, I suppose, but that never makes for good storytelling There was no conflict and was just a series of bizarre encounters There s also no question of whether or not Dorothy will return home any spoiler alert she does Our girl Dorothy is getting rather used to her visits to fairylands and seems all rather chill about it all.So, again, with this book, we have a series of bizarre encounters and no real conflict, danger, or desire We ve stopped worrying whether or not Dorothy will get back to Kansas, and so has she There is no dramatic arc going on Everything is all hunky dory, except for a run in with the Scoodlers who remind me of the Fireys from Labyrinth who want to make Dorothy and her pals into soup Other than that, it s just Dorothy and a bunch of weirdos on their way to see Ozma for her birthday which is August 21st mark your calendars, folks In this adventure, it s Dorothy s three new companions that need to find their homes The Shaggy Man to a new home, Polychrome back to the rainbow, and Button Bright back to wherever the hell he came from.The story opens with Dorothy s encounter with the Shaggy Man, which is totes creepy He and Dorothy meet when he passes by her home in Kansas and asks her for directions She attempts to oblige him, but it isn t going so well Dorothy decides the best way to get him there is to take him herself She excuses herself to run inside to grab her bonnet something I was hoping was just a ruse to yell for Aunt Em and Uncle Henry to call the cops But, no, I guess Stranger Danger wasn t an issue in early 1900s Kansas For some reason.And away they go As soon as the Shaggy Man who doesn t have a name, that we know of, and just answers the Shaggy Man has gotten Dorothy far enough away from home to realize she s lost, he reveals he has a super special magic token called a love magnet that makes people love him no matter what and in any circumstance.RUN, DOROTHY, RUN.Well, hang in there, folks, it turns out it s not meant to be creepy at all and it s actually good that he has this object because it ends up helping the out of a few tight spots And, really, I do appreciate what Baum was trying to do here and show that this guy is really a sweet, good man beneath his shaggy appearance and just wants to be seen for than that without changing who he is But, lordy, that is not the way this reads today Soon afterwards she meets the idiot Button Bright who I just can t even No.So I only adored about one third of Dorothy s new companionsA little girl, radiant and beautiful, shapely as a fairy and exquisitely dressed, was dancing gracefully in the middle of a lonely road, whirling slowly this way and that, her dainty feet twinkling in sprightly fashion She was clad in flowing, fluffy robes of soft material that reminded Dorothy of woven cobwebs, only it was colored in soft tintings of violet, rose, topaz, olive, azure, and white, mingled together most harmoniously in stripes which melted one into the other with soft blendings Her hair was spun like gold and floated around her in a cloud, no strand being fastened or confined by either pin or ornament or ribbonpage 60 I am a sucker for colors and rainbows and fairies, so, of course, I am a sucker for Polychrome s adorable spirit even though the poor girl doesn t get anything to do except dance to keep warm and be adorable all the time.Some other observations I couldn t help but think that the chapter headings resembled the female reproductive systemEverything about Ozma attracted one, and she inspired love and the sweetest affection rather than awe or ordinary admiration Dorothy threw her arms around her little friend and hugged and kissed her rapturouslypage 204 Whoa Should I be shipping DozmaYou have some queer friends, Dorothy Polychrome said The queerness doesn t matter, so long as they re friends, was the answerpage 184It isn t what we are, but what folks think we are, that counts in this worldThe Hungry Tiger, page 185I love that dude.And this passageThere were many people on these walks men, women, and children all dressed in handsome garments of silk or satin or velvet, with beautiful jewels Better even than this all seemed happy and contented, for their faces were smiling and free from care, and music and laughter might be heard on every side Don t they work at all asked the shaggy man To be sure they work, replied the Tin Woodsman this fair city could not be built or cared for without labor, nor could the fruit and vegetables and other food be provided for the inhabitants to eat But no one works for than half his time, and the people of Oz enjoy their labors as much as they do their playpage 191 The Emerald City is a shining beacon of socialism, huh And I m going to end this mess with this image of His Royal Foxiness.
Edith Van Dyne,
- 261 pages
- The Road to Oz
- L. Frank Baum
- 20 October 2019 L. Frank Baum