Monday, November 28, 2011

Mister Tinker in Oz - Sam's Retrospective

Two months ago Jared made a review about the Random House Oz Short Story "Mister Tinker in Oz" by James Howe, illustrated by David Rose. You can see his review of half the book here.

As Jared said before I have this book in my collection and would like to offer my perspective.

Everybody knew the story of "the Wizard of Oz", or at least knew the LOOK of the story (a girl, a dog, a Scarecrow, a tin man with an axe, a lion, all walking together down a road of yellow bricks, usually to or away from a city of emeralds). Of course we had the Ladybird story as an abridgement too (illustrated by Brian Price Thomas) at my primary school library, Daceyville, but surprisingly we also had a copy of this blog's book, the cover () of which has always stayed with me since, including some of its illustrations. Not everyday that you have an abridged Oz book that's by an author NOT Baum, Thompson, etc!

I was too young to really read the book, so like all little children I just looked through the book unless I saw a picture, which there is a good number of - but you can never have enough or too many pictures as a kid!

For many years I remembered a few of the images from the book: the colour cover having a girl with her long hair in braids standing at a fence as she watched a man in a black cloak coming down a ladder from the clouds/sky, Dorothy sitting with a group of babies surrounded by giant ants, Dorothy and the babies now with the man, Dorothy looking at a clock the man showed her in his hand and finally Dorothy resting in an armchair with Toto (and a book?) in front of a fireplace.

Only once did I go on the internet, find "the Oz Project" and come across the interesting title did I find the book I remembered only through pictures and not words. It would not be until July-August 2006 that I ordered the book, not from ebay, but an online secondhand-bookstore called BiblioQuest.

I loved the book soon as I got it. And, as is often the case with memories and time, I saw how the drawings were slightly different to what I imagined: Dorothy's hair wasn't as long as I thought it was, nor did Mister Tinker look like a Clown in a black cloak. And of course now that I had grown up, I could actually read the book and remember the story - there is also an extra character, an old lady named Astoria who I thought looked like the Good Witch of the North in her one illustration (before actually reading this time), who helps add to the story.

I don't need to tell you what happens as that was already explained in Jared's blog, but I can say how the best thing about this book is that there is adventure not just in getting to Oz but also after having arrived in the Emerald City. Most importantly Dorothy helps Mr Tinker to find there was nothing wrong with him throughout the story after all. A big cliche is the asking of "Will Dorothy get home again?" or "Will everything be alright?" and that is actually addressed here, in which the Emerald City ISN'T "alright" upon visiting, so that allows the story to go on a bit longer with Dorothy and Mr Tinker and their friends all helping Oz to become normal again.

A GOOD Short Oz story, with sketchy illustrations but still some nice drawings nonetheless, which brings a backstory character to the spotlight (Tik-Tok's creator) in a simple yet extremely fun adventure in Oz. I should like to see this book as a short film someday, if possible. And maybe try some new illustrations too.

I wonder though, if L. Frank Baum had remembered Tik-Tok's story of his creators back in "Ozma", would he have thought of a way to include the 1000 year warranty and its moon-based creator in "Tik-Tok", in the rewrite of the Ozma Musical?


Hungry Tiger Talk said...

@Sam - I'm not sure why you're calling this book an abridgement. There is no longer version that I'm aware of.

Sam A M said...

True, there is no longer version of "Mister Tinker".
But when I said 'abridged' I meant in terms of already being a short story. I can fix that in an edit . . .