Archive for Oz books readthru

Review of Oz Book 7: The Patchwork Girl of Oz (1913)

Posted in books, movies, Wizard of Oz with tags , , , , , , on September 3, 2012 by Paxton

Following the Yellow Brick Road

As of this book, I’m halfway through the official original run of Baum Oz books. I’m not including “extra” stories Baum wrote like The Woggle Bug Book or Little Wizard Stories of Oz.  I’m talking about the main “canon” Oz books.  There were 14 of them and today’s book is number 7, The Patchwork Girl of Oz.

Patchwork Girl of Oz Patchwork Girl of Oz - Junior Edition

This seventh book begins with two munchkins, Ojo and his Uncle Nunkie living in seclusion in the forests of Munchkinland. They are about to starve so they leave in search of help. They go to Nunkie’s old friend the Crooked Magician. While there, the two witness a demonstration of “The Powder of Life” which was previously used in The Marvelous Land of Oz to animate Jack Pumpkinhead, the Sawhorse and The Gump. However, Nunkie and the Crooked Magician’s wife are accidentally turned into marble statues when the Magician tries to use the Powder to animate a patchwork rag doll for his wife to use as a housekeeper. So Ojo volunteers to search the Land of Oz to find the five rare ingredients the Crooked Magician needs to reverse the marble spell on their loved ones. The five ingredients Ojo needs are 1) Six leafed clover found only around the Emerald City 2) Three hairs from the tail of The Woozy 3) Water from a Dark Well 4) Drop of oil from a live man’s body 5) Left wing of a yellow butterfly found only in Winkie Country. Along the way, Ojo meets many crazy characters and eventually makes it to the Emerald City and meets Ozma, Dorothy, Scarecrow, Nick Chopper (Tin Woodsman) and the whole gang who help Ojo to find the items and free his Uncle.

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Review of Oz Book 6: The Emerald City of Oz (1910)

Posted in books, Wizard of Oz with tags , , , , on July 30, 2012 by Paxton

Following the Yellow Brick Road

Moving right along in my quest to read all of the original Frank Baum Oz novels. Here we are at Book 6. To see my reviews of the first 5 books in this series, click the banner above. Otherwise, keep on reading…

Like the last book, I picked up the illustrated eBook of this from the B&N Nook Store for .99 from Eltanin Publishing.  They have rendered a beautifully edited and formatted text and kept all the original Neill illustrations intact.  I have been supremely happy with Eltanin’s work thus far on the Oz eBooks I’ve read (Books 4, 5 and 6).  They are well worth purchasing and you can’t beat the price.  Eltanin is slowly working their way through this series.  I also picked up book 7 from them.  Unfortunately they haven’t released anything further than book 7 but my hopes are high that the rest will come soon.  Check out Eltanin Publishing for some really nice eBooks.

So, the last Oz book, The Road to Oz, was released in 1909 and this book was released the following summer in 1910.  As I mentioned, John Neill would once again contribute wonderfully detailed illustrations for the book’s interiors.  As a side note, John Neill would go on to write and illustrate several Oz books after Frank Baum died.

Emerald City of OzEmerald City of Oz

With this book, Baum had every intention of ending the Oz series.  While reading the book, you can easily see that Baum was closing the door on Oz.  We had seen him, in Book 5, parade around characters from his other non-Oz books to drum up interest in those with the hopes of sending his fans to his other stories.

With this being “the last Oz book” as Baum originally envisioned, Baum pulled out all the storytelling stops.  Instead of telling one story where we follow a group of characters through a fairly land all the way until the end of the book, in this book Baum tells two different story threads and shifts between them.  The first story thread involves the Nome King who first appeared back in Book 3. He’s extremely pissed at being defeated by a little girl and her pet chicken. Plus, they stole his magic belt. So, he gathers his army, convinces several more evil and sinister characters in Oz to take up his cause and storm the Emerald City to take it by force. While the Nome King builds this army and plans his attack, the second story thread involves Dorothy returning to Oz to ask Ozma to allow her and her Aunt and Uncle to live there permanently. The cyclone from Book 1 has destroyed their Kansas farm and the land is about to be taken over by the bank.  Ozma agrees and sends Dorothy and her Aunt and Uncle on a carriage tour throughout the countryside of Oz.  Along the way, Dorothy learns of the impending attack on the Emerald City and tries to return in time to warn Ozma.

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Review of Oz Book 5: The Road to Oz (1909)

Posted in books, Classic literature, pop culture, Wizard of Oz with tags , , , , , on June 11, 2012 by Paxton

Following the Yellow Brick Road

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.

Road to Oz
(Via pixiepalace.com)

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.

Oz map
(Via Oz-central.com)

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.

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Review of Oz Book 4: Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (1908)

Posted in books, movies, pop culture, Wizard of Oz with tags , , , , , on May 23, 2012 by Paxton

Following the Yellow Brick Road

So, after finishing Book 3, Ozma of Oz, I have officially read the first trilogy of books and I have finished the initial set of Books of Wonder paperbacks I got off Paperbackswap.com. From here on out I actually have to obtain the books either from the library, Chamblin Bookmine or through my Nook. There are also tons of free ebooks of the Oz books I can download from places like FreeEpubBooks.com or ManyBooks.net.  However, those free ebooks are text only.  You don’t get the illustrations which, for me, is half the story (Yes, I’m an Oz nerd).  So, I went searching in the Nook Store and found an illustrated ebook copy of the fourth Oz book, Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz for 99 cents.  And I pulled the trigger.  And I read it on my Nook.  Let’s take a look at that book.

Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz

Published in 1908, it was by this time that Baum had resigned himself to writing the Oz books. Before now, he had hoped to write of other lands and tales but due to the popularity of Oz, he had to keep returning to that land.

This book reunites the humbug Wizard from the first book with Dorothy Gale, who returned in the last book. The book begins with Dorothy arriving in California from Australia, where she went at the end of book 3. She is back in America to visit Henry at a Ranch on the California coast. She strikes up a friendship with the ranch owner’s nephew and they travel together. While traveling, the group is swallowed up by an earthquake and they fall into a fairy land beneath the Earth. Like in the last book, the majority of this book does not actually take place in Oz (despite the name of the book). The majority of the adventures actually take place in a few unnamed fairy lands as our characters try to make their way to Oz after falling through the earthquake.

Dorothy and friends first encounter a “vegetable people” who try to put them to death, but the Wizard falls to the ground in a hot air balloon just in time. The Wizard challenges the reigning sorceror and actually takes a sword and slices him in half like a potato. The group flee from there and head into a valley where all the people are invisible. And the reason all the people are invisible is to protect them against all of the invisible bears that keep attacking and eating people (I swear I am not kidding about that). The group goes from the valley into the mountains where they meet a crazy old man who makes holes (Yes. HOLES. Again, not kidding). They travel from there to the land of the Gargoyles. The Gargoyles are small creatures made entirely out of wood. It’s actually a pretty cool idea when you read it in the book as Baum gets very intricate about how literally these creatures are made.

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Review of The Woggle-Bug Book by L Frank Baum (1905)

Posted in books, movies, pop culture, reviews, Wizard of Oz with tags , , , , , , , on April 30, 2012 by Paxton

Following the Yellow Brick Road

Baum wrote a short book published in 1905 right before the third Oz book; Ozma of Oz.  It featured a character that was introduced in the Marvelous Land of Oz, the Woggle-Bug.  It’s not an “official” Oz book, however, since L Frank Baum wrote it and it features a character from the Oz series, I’m going to include it as part of my ancillary Oz materials reviews.  It was called The Woggle-Bug Book.

Woggle-Bug book

“Sire, I am a Woggle-Bug, highly magnified and thoroughly educated. It is no exaggeration to say I am the greatest Woggle-Bug on Earth” – HM Woggle-Bug, TE

The book takes the Woggle-Bug character out of Oz and transplants him into a nameless city in America. We aren’t told how he got there and not too many people seem distressed that a giant talking bug in a top hat is walking around the city streets in broad daylight.  The bug falls in love with this crazy colored plaid dress, follows it around as it’s passed from person to person and falls in love with whomever has the dress at the time he sees them.  After falling in love with a Chinaman wearing the dress as a Chinese robe, the Woggle-Bug mistakenly gets onto a balloon that carries him to Africa where he barely escapes vicious Arabs that want to kill him.  He then wanders into a hidden forest with talking animals that feel more like an Oz book than the events in the rest of the book.  This hidden animal kingdom is guarded by a group of bears with guns that are awesomely called a “bearicade”.  The story really is weird.  It’s funny and strange in some ways, but overall, it’s weird.  Plus, there’s a lot of ethnic humor which, I guess, was popular at the time.  However, it’s rather jarring today.

This book evolved from a series of Oz comic strips called The Queer Visitors from Oz that were used to promote the second Oz book (I’m trying to get a hold of a copy of these strips for review).  The strips took popular Oz characters and transplanted them into America for various adventures.  Those strips were popular enough that Baum thought that formula would work again.  It wasn’t completely out of left field, the Woggle-Bug had become sort of a national fad at the time.  There were Woggle-Bug postcards and board games (today, he even has his own Facebook page).  Also at this time, Baum was trying to mount a stage musical about the Woggle-Bug to recreate the smash hit 1902 stage version of Wizard of Oz.  This book was adapted from that stage play.  Unfortunately, the fad died and the Woggle-Bug play and book flopped.

Now, this book is sort of a one-off curiosity.  It is not considered Oz canon.