Here is the original subtitle to this book: A Record of Her Adventures with Dorothy Gale of Kansas, Billina the Yellow Hen, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, Tik-Tok, the Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger; Besides Other Good People Too Numerous to Mention Faithfully Recorded Herein
So, that pretty much sums it up.
As the absence of Dorothy was felt so keenly in the last book, here we find her sailing to Australia and swept overboard during a storm — the poor child is constantly beset by storms! — eventually washing up on the shores of the Land of Ev. Ev, it turns out, is a neighbour to Oz, and Dorothy soon learns that its rulers have been enslaved by the dreaded King of the Nomes and sets out to free them. She is imprisoned but eventually saved by her old friends, fortuitously in Ev on the same errand, as well as making the acquaintance of Ozma, the new Princess of Oz. (Why she isn’t the Queen of Oz, when Scarecrow was the King of Oz, is not explained.)
There is a lot to like in this book, especially Dorothy’s new animal companion, a spirited chicken named Bill (but whom Dorothy rechristens “Billina”, because Bill isn’t a girl’s name — boo, Dorothy!) who gains the power of speech in fairy land, and also the realization for me that, yeah, these are indeed fairy lands, that makes sense to me now. The fact that the action of this book takes place outside of Oz is pretty nifty, too — we always knew that our regular world was “across the Deadly Desert”, but by visiting new magical places that have things like lunchbox trees and mechanical men (hello, Tik-Tok, also from the terrifying Return to Oz, as is much of this plot, actually), it really opens up the possibilities of these absurdist delights.
What I definitely did not love is that the fierce General Jinjur — who was repeatedly referred to as “a girl” in the last installment, though we’re not sure how much time has passed in the Land of Oz; Dorothy hasn’t aged much in the real world — is now married, and also has a domestic violence subplot thrown in:
‘“I’ve married a man who owns nine cows,” said Jinjur to Ozma, “and now I am happy and contented and willing to lead a quiet life and mind my own business.”
“Where is your husband?” asked Ozma.
“He is in the house, nursing a black eye,” replied Jinjur, calmly. “The foolish man would insist upon milking the red cow when I wanted him to milk the white one; but he will know better next time, I am sure.”’
Woggle-Bug Report: No sign of the dear fellow. But there is a return of the Cowardly Lion, and a new friend in the Hungry Tiger, who can’t bring himself to eat meat and so is always complaining of being ravenous — it’s a vegetarian metaphor, I think — as well as the aforementioned Tik-Tok, who is an Asimov robot before Asimov was even born. Baum was pretty visionary, actually, it has to be said. And these books continue to delight.
Onward, to #4!
TBR DAY 115: Ozma of Oz (Oz #3) by L. Frank Baum
GENRE: Children’s Fiction, Classics
TIME ON THE TBR: 3 years.
PURCHASED FROM: Amazon.