The fourth Oz tale sees Dorothy in more adventures, once again caused by a natural disaster (I’m not sure how this kid keeps surviving these things).
On her way to California to visit her uncle, Uncle Henry is already there, she meets up with Zeb, a young boy, who is her second cousin who is waiting for her at the train station. As they take the horse and buggy towards her uncle’s home, an earthquake strikes, and the ground opens up beneath them, plunging Dorothy, Zeb, the buggy, Dorothy’s kitten, Eureka (great name for a cat by the way!), and Jim the Horse into the earth.
They find themselves in the land of the Mangaboos, a vegetable people, one of many apparently, who live inside the earth. Here Jim and Eureka can talk, as it is a magical land, and Eureka quickly proves herself precocious, a character favorite, and exactly how I imagine a cat would be if it could talk. Shortly after their arrival, drifting down from the sky in the interior of the world (which has six suns, in case you were wondering) is a balloon and a basket, and aboard, is our dear, old humbug, the wizard. It seems he was working at a circus, and was coming in for a landing, when the ground opened up and swallowed he and his balloon whole.
From there, the travel to the valley of voices, eluding the Mangaboos, who end up being not so nice, attacks from invisible bears, and a whole cavern filled with dragonettes (young dragons who are quite proud of their pedigrees).
And it is only here, where Dorothy must feel really trapped, and everything else up to this point must have been a bit of a lark for her, that she lets everyone else know that Ozma, the ruler of Oz, can rescue them with the belt claimed from the Nome King in the previous adventure.
At this point, the entire party is relocated to Oz, where old friends are reunited, and everything becomes a bit of a party, until little Eureka is accused of eating one of Oz’s miniature piglets, and is consequently put on trial for her lives, all nine of them.
This one is more a straightforward travel adventure, simply moving from one incident to the next as our friends try to find their way home, but Baum takes care to mention all the fan favourites once they reach Oz (which as a side note, it’s explained whether the land was named for the Wizard or vice-versa, and the Wizard’s full name is revealed).
These books continue to be light and fun, and each chapter is the perfect length for reading to someone at bedtime. The children of the early 20th century simply ate these books up, and there are 10 more to go!!!
For someone who never ventured further than the movie, this is making a great little literary expedition for me.
The next one up is… The Road to Oz!