|The Emerald City of Oz by L. Frank Baum, illustrated by John R. Neill.|
Published by Reilly & Britton, 1910.
Books of Wonder facsimile edition, HarperCollins, 1993.
We started The Emerald City of Oz, the sixth book in the original Baum series, back in September. Due to our crazy Halloween reading, we only completed the book this week!
|The endpapers! Sigh.|
I wasn't excited to start this one. It is sandwiched between The Road to Oz and The Patchwork Girl of Oz, two of my favorites in the series, and when I began reading it to the girls, it was with a sigh and a wish to plow through it quickly. I did remember it being a bit more sophisticated in its storytelling. The book begins in the caverns of The Nome King, Roquat the Red, as he vows revenge upon the land of Oz and its citizens for the loss of his Magic Belt. (See Ozma of Oz.) From there, the book alternates between the Nomes and their evil allies and the good people of Oz, with a stop in Kansas along the way. Aunt Em and Uncle Henry are about to lose the farm, and Dorothy arranges with Ozma to bring her aunt and uncle to Oz. The three will live there permanently - no more Kansas.
Then I read Oz: The Hundredth Anniversary Celebration (blogged about here). One of the authors who contributed to that book wrote that her favorite book in the series was The Emerald City of Oz, citing her love of Miss Cuttenclip, among other inventive characters. I did wonder if my initial ambivalence toward the book was unfair.
The girls and I grew more excited when we came to the first full-color illustration, opposite the title page. Our copy is the facsimile edition by Books of Wonder, of course. I don't know if it translates well in my photographs, but any time the emerald green color appears in the book, it is metallic and glittery. Oooo, glitter. The way to our hearts!
And the story did move faster for me this time. Dorothy brings her aunt and uncle to Oz, then the three set off with the Wizard and other friends to explore parts of Oz they haven't yet seen. Among the characters we meet are Miss Cuttenclip, who presides over a paper doll world brought to life by Glinda; jigsaw puzzle people called the Fuddles; kitchen utensils come to life in Utensia; living, breathing baked goods, in the land of Bunbury; rabbits dressed in fine clothing in Bunnybury; overly talkative folks called the Rigmaroles; and worrywarts known as the Flutterbudgets.
Interspersed are chapters involving the Nome King and General Guph, who travels to recruit enemies to aid in Roquat's revenge plan. The Whimsies have very tiny heads, so they wear giant, terrible false heads to make up for it. The Growleywogs are great giants. The Phanfasms are the most mysterious and the most powerful. All three of the enemies plan to turn on the nomes and each other.
I do not want to give any more away. I will say that Baum intended for this to be the last book in the series. He had other fantastic lands and characters that he wanted to write about. The book ends on that note, with Oz cut off forever from the rest of the world. Alas, financial hardships led Baum to resume the series two years later, as his Oz books were guaranteed money-makers.
Next week: Scraps, Scraps, Scraps! We're reading The Patchwork Girl of Oz.
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