Posts Tagged: Wizard of Oz ReadAlong

Wizard of Oz Read-Along
Book 4 – Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz

April 30, 2017 Books, Read-Alongs 2

We’re not in Kansas California anymore, Toto Eureka….

Book 4 – Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz

During a California earthquake Dorothy falls into the underground Land of the Mangaboos where she again meets the Wizard of Oz.

My Thoughts:

Perhaps I’m just being a bit too curmudgeonly, but I thought this was the most disjointed and unsettling book of the Oz series so far.

Don’t get me wrong, Baum’s talent for inventing absolutely bonkers places and people is still evident. For example: How the heck did he come up with a land of sentient vegetables who live in glass houses? But that’s where the charm begins and ends for me.

The last part of the book, where Dorothy et al. end up in Oz and the horse characters decide to run an inexplicable race and a talking cat is charged with murder, seems weirdly disjointed. It’s as though Baum had a grand old time sending the kids and the Wizard on yet another whimsical adventure, but then felt obligated to provide a kind of “fanservice” with all the old gang making an appearance.

I’m also not quite sure what to think of the Wizard at this point. Did he send Ozma to Mombi as a power grab, or was the whole thing actually orchestrated by the witch(es), or what? Does the Wizard have amnesia or something? Is he villainous or just plain stupid?

I’m honestly not looking forward to finishing the series at this point. What started out as charming and imaginative seems to be devolving into something kind of half-baked and formulaic (if the formula was smashed to bits and glued back together in not quite the right way). But maybe I’m being too grouchy. Tell me what you think!

Questions:
  • What do you think the deal is with the Wizard at this point? Bad guy, complete idiot, or just plain annoying, or something else?
  • We’ve met several new characters over the last few books — are you enjoying this expanding cast, or do you wish the originals would get more of the spotlight?

Are you reading this series along with me? If you have reviewed or discussed this book online, please feel free to post a link to that in the comments. (But you don’t have to be an “official” participant to discuss this book in the comments if you feel so inclined.)

Please note: Even though I try to avoid major spoilers in my blog post, I can’t promise that the comments will remain spoiler-free too — so read at your own risk!

Want to participate in this read-along? Sign up here.


Wizard of Oz Read-Along
Book 3 – Ozma of Oz

April 16, 2017 Books, Read-Alongs 4

First and most importantly: If you’re reading this series along with me, thank you for your patience. I’ll try to do a better job of sticking to our schedule in the future!

Book 3 – Ozma of Oz

Blown overboard while sailing with her uncle, Dorothy finds herself in the fairy realm of Ev. She sets out with her friends to rescue the Queen of Ev and her ten children, who have been imprisoned by the cruel Nome King. But even Ozma, the wise Ruler of Oz, is no match for the clever king, and it’s up to Dorothy to save everyone from terrible danger. But will the Nome King’s enchantments be too much even for the plucky little girl from Kansas?

My Thoughts:

Basically the entire book (entire series?) might be summed up like so:

Sensible reader: Dorothy, no
Dorothy: DOROTHY YES

I mean, take the very first scene of this particular book:

Captain: Storm’s a-comin’
Storm: *happens*
Captain: OK, everyone stay off the deck and you’ll be fine
Captain: Idiot says what
Dorothy: What???
Storm: *intensifies*
Dorothy: LEEERRROOOYYY JEEENKIIINNNSSS

But I will confess that it’s kinda endearing how hilariously optimistic our little heroine is throughout her adventures and the way she just takes weird things in stride.

She laughs and then takes a dang nap after getting washed overboard on a chicken coop, acts like it is perfectly normal when a similarly marooned chicken starts up a conversation (and renames said chicken because it has an inappropriately masculine name and that can’t be allowed), happily eats a mysteriously “ripe” packed lunch off of a packed-lunch tree, and… well you, get the idea.

One funny, sort of creepy thing about reading this is that it triggered some very vague, unsettling memories. First it was the Wheelers, then Tik-Tok… these characters seemed so familiar and it was easy to picture them in my mind. I read Maguire’s Wicked (upon which the popular musical show is based) and at least one of its sequels several years ago, so I assumed that’s where I was getting my ideas of these characters.

It wasn’t until Langwidere and her exchangeable heads that I realized where I’d actually encountered these characters before: the 1985 movie Return to Oz, a much darker work than the 1939 musical despite being produced by Disney.

The movie isn’t precisely faithful to the source material, although it does include several of the most recognizable characters/scenes. Frankly, the movie is creepy beyond belief and it both fascinated me and gave me nightmares as a kid, which is probably why I remembered-yet-suppressed it until now.

Questions:
  • Have you seen the Return to Oz movie — and how did you feel about it?
  • Do you find Dorothy charming, idiotic, something in between, something altoghter different?
  • Any other particularly awesome/terrible characters from this book in your opinion?

Are you reading this series along with me? If you have reviewed or discussed this book online, please feel free to post a link to that in the comments. (But you don’t have to be an “official” participant to discuss this book in the comments if you feel so inclined.)

Please note: Even though I try to avoid major spoilers in my blog post, I can’t promise that the comments will remain spoiler-free too — so read at your own risk!

Want to participate in this read-along? Sign up here.


Wizard of Oz Read-Along
Book 2 – The Marvelous Land of Oz

February 27, 2017 Books, Read-Alongs 7

Welcome back to Oz!

Book 2 – The Marvelous Land of Oz

Young Tip runs away from his guardian, the witch Mombi, taking with him Jack Pumpkinhead and the wooden Saw-Horse, and flees to the Emerald City where he learns the incredible secret of his past.

My Thoughts:

Uh… what just happened? That was a wild ride!

OK, I admit that I was a little annoyed by Tip at first. I know Mombi is supposed to be a Bad Guy, but for some reason I found her much more interesting and slightly more sympathetic than the Wicked Witch of the West in the previous book.

I also have to say that I was a little confused by the whole coup thing with the Scarecrow… but that scene between him and Jack Pumpkinhead and their “translator” was adorably funny. Cheesy, sure, but cute. I like a little cheese every once in a while.

Actually, several scenes were a little confusing. Or maybe not so much “confusing” as “WTF just happened” or “was there a point to this”? Don’t get me wrong, this was a good fun romp of a story, but… are ALL the Oz books going to be as random/manic as this?

I quite enjoyed the addition of all the wacky new characters/creatures, like The Gump in particular — I hope it shows up again in future books. And the Woggle-Bug’s terrible puns were DELIGHTFUL.

I do wonder if Baum was trying to get political with all the Girl Power / Evil Feminazi stuff. The book seemed to be simultaneously poking fun at feminists while praising other leading ladies — even so far as turning a boy into a girl. I’ve tried not to read too much into all this, though — after all, the book was written while the 20th century still had the shiny on it and the 19th Amendment was still nearly 2 decades off.

So… tell me what you thought of this one!

Questions:
  • Did you particularly like any of the new characters/creatures? Or were you hoping for more old favorites from the first book?
  • Do you ever feel a little twinge of sympathy or unwarranted fondness for “bad guy” characters?
  • What did you think of all the gender politics stuff in this book? Do you think Baum was making an eloquent point about the feminism of his day, or is that maybe reading too much into a wacky little kids’ book?

Are you reading this series along with me? If you have reviewed or discussed this book online, please feel free to post a link to that in the comments. (But you don’t have to be an “official” participant to discuss this book in the comments if you feel so inclined.)

Please note: Even though I try to avoid major spoilers in my blog post, I can’t promise that the comments will remain spoiler-free too — so read at your own risk!

Want to participate in this read-along? Sign up here.


Wizard of Oz Read-Along
Book 1 – The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

January 30, 2017 Books, Read-Alongs 10

Welcome to the Oz! Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.

Book 1 – The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Dorothy thinks she’s lost forever when a tornado whirls her and her dog, Toto, into a magical world. To get home, she must find the wonderful wizard in the Emerald City of Oz. On the way she meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion. But the Wicked Witch of the West has her own plans for the new arrival — will Dorothy ever see Kansas again?

My Thoughts:

I vaguely remember reading this as a kid, but unsurprisingly the book story was supplanted by the movie story in my memory and the only thing I really recalled from the book was the whimsical illustrations and Dorothy’s silver shoes. But some scenes came back to me during this little re-read: Boq the Munchkin, the dainty people of China Country (my favorites for some reason), the goofy green glasses worn in Emerald City, and the Wicked Witch having only one eye.

There seemed to be rather a lot more gore and property destruction than I remembered, too, what with all the chopping off of heads and the smashing up of buildings and suchlike. Probably not the kind of story that could get a G rating if Disney tried a true-to-the-book animated film version these days — not that I’m complaining, it just wasn’t expected. I seem to have taken it all in stride when I read it as a child, which seems to be pretty common — grown-ups notice and are sometimes shocked by “bad” things in stories that kiddos wouldn’t blink an eye at.

A lot of the characters (all of them?) are not all that well fleshed-out. And a lot of them are just idiots. Still, it’s a charming little story, and I’m a huge sucker for creative/insane world-building, so that wasn’t too much of a problem for me. There are better children’s fantasy books out there these days, but it’s easy for me to see why this one was so well-loved in its time and gained “classic” status so quickly.

Questions:
  • Have you read this book before? How did your re-read match up with your memory? Or if you haven’t read it before, did the book live up to your expectations?
  • If you’ve seen the 1939 musical film, how do you think the book compares? Do you like one a whole lot better than the other?
  • Did you have a favorite character or culture/land?

Are you reading this series along with me? If you have reviewed or discussed this book online, please feel free to post a link to that in the comments. (But you don’t have to be an “official” participant to discuss this book in the comments if you feel so inclined.)

Please note: Even though I try to avoid major spoilers in my blog post, I can’t promise that the comments will remain spoiler-free too — so read at your own risk!

Want to participate in this read-along? Sign up here.


Sign up for the Wizard of Oz Read-Along!

December 5, 2016 Books 14

As I mentioned last month, along with my Wheel of Time Re-Read-Along I’ll be starting L. Frank Baums’ Oz series this coming January. This is your official invitation to join me!

I’ll be reading at a pace of 1 book per month. The series includes 14 books (well, the ones written by Baum anyway). I am a firm believer in the “you do you” school of book blogging. If you want to read faster or slower than that, it’s totally up to you. This read-along is really all about having fun with some classic children’s books!

You can see my official read-along page with the schedule and brief summaries of each book here:

woz_readalong

How can you participate? It’s really up to you! Personally, I will be posting a brief review + discussion topic each month after reading a book in the series. You can join in the discussion in the comments on my blog, post about the book on your own blog, share your thoughts on the Lone Star on a Lark Facebook page, @ me on Twitter, spill your feelings into your diary, etc.

But that is a lot of books, what if I do not have the money/space for all this? First of all, go to your freakin’ library. Also, these Oz books are all in the public domain in the United States, which means you can usually find reprints for cheap — or you can just read them for free online (legally) at the Internet Archive or Project Gutenberg or similar sites.


Want to be included in that participants list? Please leave a comment on this post with a link to (a) your own blog page where you will track your reading, (b) your blog tag or category for read-along posts, or (c) a Goodreads shelf or LibraryThing collection/tag or similar.

(Please do not add links for individual book review posts. This is meant to be an “umbrella” link that can be included on the official read-along page.)

Not tracking your reading online? That’s totally fine, too — just comment with the name/alias you’d like to be known as on the participants list instead.