Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ozma and the Wayward Wand

In 1985, Random House Publishing issued four little Oz books, probably timed with the release of Disney's Return to Oz. They were Dorothy and the Magic Belt, Dorothy and the Seven-Leaf Clover, the surprisingly easy to find Mister Tinker in Oz, and the book at hand, Ozma and the Wayward Wand.

These books were not long, being small, thin, having large print, and under ten chapters each. Each of the four were written by a different writer, but illustrator David Rose illustrated them all. Ozma and the Wayward Wand was by Polly Berends. (What a suggestive title, by the way. Don't know what I mean? Good.)

Each of the books are supposed to be set after Ozma of Oz, as that was the last Oz book in public domain at the time. As I'd mentioned, Mister Tinker in Oz seems to be rather easy to find. I know Sam's at least read it, and he's in Australia, and I've owned two copies, a hardcover library binding edition in my first collection, and now a standard paperback.

Ozma and the Wayward Wand finds Dorothy wanting to go on a hot air balloon ride, but when she visits the fair, she spends her fifty cent piece at a fortune teller, who shows her a vision of Ozma and the Scarecrow missing her in Oz. Dorothy does go to the hot air balloon, though she has no money, and is given a free ride, but when Toto jumps out, the operator retrieves him, but before he can get back in himself, the balloon flies away.

The balloon eventually flies to Oz, where it starts to fall over the desert, but the Scarecrow in the reassembled Gump rescues Dorothy and Toto, and Ozma uses the magic carpet, which has become watery, to make a river that reaches out into the desert.

As Dorothy, Billina, and Ozma go boating, a little boy steals Ozma's wand and begins to make trouble in the Emerald City, not what he'd intended and a lot more trouble than he expected.

In the end, everything is returned to normal, and Dorothy goes back to Kansas in the balloon.

The little book isn't such a great Oz story. It specifically states Dorothy's last visit was Ozma of Oz, but that becomes problematic, as that book has Dorothy in Australia at the end, and the next book opens with her on the return journey. The ending has a moral for Dorothy and Ozma, which feels a little forced and doesn't make a compelling story at all. Dorothy feels too restless in Kansas (she even says "Drat!" at having to stay there, which just doesn't feel right), and Ozma seems too silly, alerting the entire Emerald City to Dorothy's plight when only a few people can actually help. And Ozma worries Dorothy's forgotten them, which would be silly indeed, considering Oz is the most exciting place Dorothy's been to.

The best part of the book is David Rose's illustrations. While he caters a bit to the MGM folk by giving Dorothy braids, his designs are largely based on John R. Neill's original illustrations. (Though I don't care for his Omby Amby, who has his beard back already, another contradiction of series continuity.)

Overall, while it's fine for a short kid's book, it's not a great Oz book.


British Fan Of Oz said...

Odd I found it harder to get Mister Tinker in Oz over hear years ago.

I like the Neill inspired Oz drawings, I always thought Dorothy was drawn to look like Fairuza From Return to Oz then MGM Oz.

rocketdave said...

I read this book as a kid and have been wanting to figure out what the title of it was for some time, but that was made tricky due to my spotty memory. I know exactly where I was when I read it and I know that it wasn't very long because I finished it in what was probably a single morning or afternoon, but nearly everything about the plot had escaped me. Unfortunately, I can't say that this summary rang any bells. It wasn't until I looked it up on the Oz wiki and read the part about the giant frog that I knew this was the book. I'd tried googling "Oz book" and "giant frog" before, but of course, the result I came up with was the Frogman. At least now I finally know, so that's one less thing driving me crazy.

Steven Seipel said...

There is one more Random House Oz book, Dorothy and Old King Crow by Dorothy Haas.