Saturday, October 25, 2008

The latest Oz readings

Between the move and the new job, I haven't had a lot of time for reading, sad to say. Too bad, as I really enjoy reading, and not just Oz stuff. But at long last I have a nice pile of Oz stuff to comment on, so let's dive on in, shall we?

  • The Problem Child by Michael Buckley, volume 3 of the Sisters Grimm series. Things are really starting to heat up in Ferryport Landing, as the Everafters are beginning to rebel against the Grimms and the curse that keeps them there. A new election may not bring good results for Sabrina and Daphne. And it turns out that Granny Relda may not be their only living relative, after all. Oh, and did I mention the Jabberwocky running amok and causing havok? This one is a major turning point in the series.
  • John Dough and the Cherub by L. Frank Baum. Okay, no, I didn't read the whole book, as I've already read it numerous other times. But I did read the new material for this reprint edition from Hungry Tiger Press. J. L. Bell's introduction is fascinating and a great read, and the book itself probably looks better than it ever has before, even without the color. I'm glad David Maxine took the time to put this together.
  • Toto! The Wonderful Adventure Volume 2 by Yuko Osada. The manga series continues, with Kakashi just getting into more and more trouble. He, Dorothy, and Toto come to a town that's based around trains, but the trains are being salvaged for the war. They also meet Noil the Entertainer, who's a useless apprentice. (Okay, this one is going off in odd directions, but I'm enjoying it anyway.)
  • Beginnings: A New Novel Set in Oz by Jon M. Weber. Hoo-boy. This slight little book (despite the subtitle, I don't think this could be called a novel by any stretch) shows what happened to a lot of the characters in the famous movie version of The Wizard of Oz — before the movie even started. Yes, someone is trying to answer all of those questions that don't really need to be answered, such as who Dorothy's parents were and how she came to live with Uncle Henry and Aunt Em. But this mostly tackles Oz in a not terribly satisfying way (the Wizard is Glinda's father???). It tries to be both an epic and a musical (which is very hard to do in a book), but doesn't even come close to pulling it off.
  • The Witch's Revenge by David Anthony. This is volume 2 of Anthony's "What if Oz wasn't a dream?" trilogy. The Wicked Witch is back, and wants revenge against everyone who ever did her wrong — including Trisha, the Good Witch of the South (???). Yes, this is another movie-based book. Oh, and we get an origin for the Tin Woodman. Did you know he's not the only tin man in Oz? This was published in 2006, but there seems to be no sign of the third book, which is pretty annoying. (This is not the first Oz "trilogy" that only got to two volumes; anyone ever see the end of the Umbrella Man of Oz series?)
  • More comics! I can't find them all right now, but two more issues of The Land of Oz: The Manga by David Hutchison have come out. The pace has slowed down just a bit, but I suspect this one won't last quite as long as his adaptation of The Wizard of Oz in the first Oz: The Manga series. Jinjur is cute, and the Wogglebug (whom we've only seen a glimpse of so far) looks good, if a bit more bug-like than he ever did in the original book. I do hope this series continues and adapts other Oz books.
  • Betty & Veronica Digest #188 from Archie Comics. Yes, the kids from Riverdale do The Wizard of Oz. In the story "There's No Place Like Riverdale," Betty gets conked on the head during a yaard sale and...ah, you can probably imagine what happens next. The cover alone is worthy of putting in an Oz collection, but the story's not bad, either, with some nice Archie jokes and twists.
  • And finally, Making Movies by Sidney Lumet. The long-time director takes you behind the scenes and explains the process of how to make a movie. Although he has a very personal approach to the subject, it's not a memoir, as he doesn't say much of his life outside of movie making, nor does he go into great detail about every movie he's ever made. But he does have some great stories to tell, which he uses to illustrate his points. I bought this because the only musical he ever directed was The Wiz, and while he doesn't say much about it, what he does say is interesting and illustrates just what a huge monster that movie was. If you ever wondered if the "red" section of the scenes in the Emerald City was shorter than the others, you'll find out in this book. It may have been light on Oz content, but it was certainly an entertaining read.

While everything else was packed up, I also got to read a lot more of The Collected Short Stories of L. Frank Baum than I had planned on. No matter. It's all good, and it's been fun to visit these old friends again.

I have no idea how long before I get around to reading more Oz books, but I hope it won't be anywhere near as long as this last stretch!

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