Allison's Book Bag

Ozma of Oz by Frank Baum

Posted on: December 23, 2014

After reading Ozma of Oz by Frank Baum years ago in fifth grade, I knew that I wanted all of the Oz books. What appealed to me about that particular title? To be honest, I don’t know if I have an answer. Sometimes a novel simply captures one’s imagination in such a way that a story becomes memorable and unforgettable. For me, Ozma of Oz happens to be one of those books.

In rereading Ozma of Oz again this week, the plot could be one reason. Our beloved Dorothy is traveling on a ship with her uncle, a storm erupts, and she’s blown out to sea in a chicken coop. Never mind that Baum has already relied on bad weather in Wizard of Oz to disrupt Dorothy’s day. The moment the wind blows hard and the billows roll high, I know danger and excitement are afoot, and Baum has me hooked. Nor of course is Dorothy safe when she reaches the shore. In the sand is written a message: “Beware the Wheelers”. These creatures who roll on all fours soon have Dorothy fleeing to a nearby hill and me clutching my throat. Barely does Baum let me breathe a sigh of relief over Dorothy’s escape, when he introduces Princess Langwidere. She doesn’t seem to understand that others don’t have interchangeable heads and innocently demands that Dorothy hand over hers. Her apathetic innocence made my skin tingle. On and on Baum heaps the dangers, with the most nail-biting scenes in my mind coming from the Nome King. Yet it’s not so much the ability of the Nome King to turn Dorothy and her friends into ornaments that put me on edge as how the Nome King tricked everyone into playing a deadly game where their lives were on the line.

The characters could also be a reason for why Ozma of Oz mesmerizes me. The first is of course Dorothy, the ideal character for fantastic adventures such as Baum writes. Dorothy’s practical approach to disaster, of choosing to rest and see what happens next, helps her not despair and thus to survive. That doesn’t however mean Dorothy always feels cheer or is role model of perfection. Just as much as anyone, she wants to have dry clothes and food to eat. Her strong sense of right and wrong also serves her well, causing her to stand up against villains such as Princess Langwidere and the Nome King. The next character whom Dorothy meets is a hen named Billina. The two bond together when sharing the same coop during the storm. They also quibble over who is more shameful, Billina who eats living insects or Dorothy who eats cooked creatures. Thus, begins a relationship, where both are highly opinionated but still manage to stay friends. Most of the other good characters are old favorites from previous Oz book such as the scarecrow, tin woodman, and cowardly lion. For those familiar with only Wizard of Oz, there will however be new personalities to enjoy such as the hungry tiger who craves babies but morally knows it’s wrong and so disallows himself such delicacies.

I have now reached the part of my review where I encourage or discourage you from purchasing a book. If you like fantasy, Baum is still among the most creative authors of the literary world. Plot and characters aside, I also enjoy his humor and whimsy. If you like Oz books, Ozma is one of the most entertaining of them. The villains almost steal the show. Beyond that, all I can tell you is that personally Ozma of Oz will always be near the top of my favorite books to read and reread.

My rating? Bag it: Carry it with you. Make it a top priority to read.

How would you rate this book?

4 Responses to "Ozma of Oz by Frank Baum"

I too loved the Oz books when I was a kid. Thanks for the reminder–I’ll have to delve into them again.

You’re welcome! Enjoy rediscovering Oz. 🙂

Fantasy interests me less now as an adult. Or maybe it’s that I like a certain kind. The Oz books still all appeal to me. They have an enduring quality. Thanks for posting your praise of them!

Enticing introduction to Ozma of Oz!

“If you like fantasy, Baum is still among the most creative authors of the literary world.” I agree. Athough I’ve always enjoyed reading fairy tales, I prefer realistic fiction over fantasy. However Baum is one of the writers of fantasy whose books I like.

“If you like Oz books, Ozma is one of the most entertaining of them.” I’ve read all the Oz books that Robert and Shekinah have, and my favourite is The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. However Ozma of Oz, which is the only Oz book that both of them have, ranks close to it.

“Beyond that, all I can tell you is that personally Ozma of Oz will always be near the top of my favorite books to read and reread.” Although I don’t reread many books, I did reread Ozma of Oz when you told me that you were going to review it at Allison’s Bookbag. I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed it on my first reading of it some thirty or more years ago when you were growing up.

Thus I also encourage young people who like fantasy to bag, or at least to borrow, Ozma of Oz and read it.

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