It’s been over a year since I travelled to the land of Oz. So I decided to buckle up for a quick jaunt back to that fairyland that shaped the lives of so many children at the beginning of the 20th century.
Baum guides us back to his world as we go on another quest type tale and introduces us to some new characters, even as they catch up with names and faces we already know.
Sure, it’s been awhile since I’ve read any of the books, this being the seventh in the series, but I fell right back into it, but noticed that Baum’s style seemed to have improved between books. Yes, these novels are aimed at children, but that doesn’t mean they are the only ones reading them, and this time around I noticed a playful sense of humour running through this one (the phonograph bit is hysterical!).
The story follows a young munchkin boy named Ojo who must seek out ingredients for a magical cure. His Unc Nunkie and a magician’s wife have been turned to stone when they have a potion spilled on them by accident. The magician seems them out across Oz with a list of things to find to help release them from their stone form.
He is joined by Scraps, a girl made from a patchwork quilt who takes a shine to the Scarecrow when they meet up (and that feeling is returned), and a glass cat that has a ruby for a heart, emeralds for eyes, and pink pebbles for brains (which you can see work, as she will tell you over and over again. And I thought it got funnier and funnier each time I read that line). Rounding out the group is the Shaggy Man, previously introduced in the series, and a box-like animal known as a Woozy, who sparks fire from his eyes, and thinks he has an intimidating growl.
We actually get more than halfway through the story before we get to the Emerald City and catch up with Dorothy and Ozma, so it’s rather enjoyable to explore the world with all new characters, and see how they interact with one another.
The books have always been a reflection of their times, and they also seem to want to instruct children on being well-behaved, if a little adventurous. Ojo makes the mistake of breaking one of the laws of Oz and repents his error, although the prison in the Emerald City is rather nice.
Dorothy, Scarecrow and Toto join our new heroes on their quest, and eventually, a happy ending is reached. These new characters are nice additions to the lexicon of Oz, and this was a surprisingly fun, if predictable adventure.
There was only one thing that stuck out, there is a moment early in the book when the cat, Scaps and Ojo find an empty house to stay the night in, but there’s a disembodied voice telling them what to do and how to behave. That’s a little jarring, and honestly, a little spooky, except for the fact that it doesn’t bother Ojo at all.
Overall this one was a fun and very enjoyable adventure.
Perhaps I won’t wait as long for my next trip to Oz…