Wednesday, November 07, 2012

The Winged Monkeys of Oz

Here's the first Oz book by Dennis Anfuso. Before this book—published in 1996—Anfuso was mainly known for artwork, including a humorous "What if?" panel on the back of Oziana 1979 showing Dorothy's house being carried away by the cyclone, with her and Toto peeking with Aunt Em out of the cellar, Dorothy noting how she and Toto had made it just in time. He has since illustrated books for Chris Dulabone and even written another Oz book.

The Winged Monkeys of Oz introduces us to a little girl named Melanie who finds a Winged Monkey on the beach in Tacoma, Washington. She befriends it and it is joined by another: they are named Nikko and Breeka. They carry her to the neighboring countries of Oz, where they have a series of strange adventures on Symma Island, Anna Mile Island, and Artisand Island.

Meanwhile, Ozma would like to do something for someone for her birthday. Eventually, it's decided to invite the Winged Monkeys to live in the Palace, so Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, the Lion, and Toto go to see the Monkeys and invite them. The Monkeys accept, but soon their mischievous nature rise and cause trouble. What is the solution, and can Breeka, Nikko and Melanie get back to Oz and Tacoma?

The plot in Oz is nicely done, but while the travels of Nikko, Breeka and Melanie are spiced with conflict, I actually had trouble noting where one island ended and the next began. It wasn't bad, but it was jarring.

Dennis writes charmingly and humorously and includes a good number of in-jokes for Oz fans (there's a painting competition by an artist named Dean Slow and Kneel). Overall, I rather did like this one.

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