One year after Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, Baum released the fourth Oz sequel; The Road to Oz: In Which Is Related How Dorothy Gale of Kansas, The Shaggy Man, Button Bright, and Polychrome the Rainbow’s Daughter Met on an Enchanted Road and Followed it All the Way to the Marvelous Land of Oz. Yes, that is the “official” title.
Like the other books in the series, this book is a “road trip” book. A bunch of characters start off walking and meet a bunch of other crazy characters before eventually arriving in Oz. And in this book, that summary is literally what happens. There’s really no villain in this book. No threat or conflict to resolve. The characters just journey from Point A to Point B and end up in Oz for a celebration. That’s it. So, the story is a tad thin. However, the illustrations by John Neill throughout the book are gorgeous and very detailed. In fact, in the front of the book, we are treated to a really nice illustrated map of the land of Oz and the surrounding magical countries that Baum keeps adding to the landscape in each successive book. And I’m sure this map will change as I get further into these books.
So, the story starts off with Dorothy back in Kansas. She’s out strolling around the Kansas plains with Toto (who returns for the first time since Book 1). Dorothy bumps into a wandering vagabond called The Shaggy Man. Obviously not fearing for her life that a disheveled hobo has shown interest in her, Dorothy begins giving him directions but stops because she believes this hobo to be stupid. Dorothy, again, in this book is kind of a dick. She corrects people’s grammar and, like just happened, she tells people they are too stupid to understand certain directions she is giving them. Anyway, the Shaggy Man is in possession of something called a “love magnet” (yeah, I know) that causes anyone that sees him to fall madly in love with him. Where he got it, he doesn’t say. Dorothy leads the Shaggy Man to a crossroads that should lead him where he wants to go, but as she turns to leave, the crossroads multiplies from 2 to 7 to 18 to infinity. Confused, the travelers decide to just pick a road and begin their journey to wherever the hell they are supposed to go. Along the roads they meet Button Bright, a child in a sailor suit who is anything but bright, and Polychrome, the rainbow’s daughter. It’s this group that will travel the fairy roads to Oz.
The first stop is in Foxville, home of a bunch of anthropomorphic foxes. The Fox King magically turns Button Bright’s head into a fox as a reward for being “clever” but doesn’t know how to turn it back when Button Bright objects. So the group leave and end up in Dunkiton, where a similar fate is bestowed upon Shaggy Man, except it’s a donkey head. The group is told that the only thing that will fix them is the Truth Pond, only found in Oz. So the adventurers head towards what they hope is Oz.