Monday, March 30, 2009

My latest Oz readings

I finally got through my latest big pile of Oz books. I think, after this, I won't tackle quite so many at one time, and I may even blog them as I read them rather than waiting until I'm done reading Oz for a while. Anyway, in no particular order:

  • First is the latest (for me) Sisters Grimm book, volume 4, Once Upon a Crime. Daphne and Sabrina are back in New York City and get caught up in the machinations of the Everafter community there. This is the Ozziest book of the series so far, what with the Wizard having a big role. He's now a window dresser at Macy's, appropriately enough considering that L. Frank Baum was also a window dresser (and yes, author Michael Buckley knows this, and it's deliberate). Aside from the Oz content, this is a fun series, and I'm looking forward to where the rest of the girls' adventures take them.
  • Dunkiton #17, the latest in Ruth Berman's annual series of reprinted material from Oz contributors, is a single story by Paul West, "The Christmas That Was Nearly Missed." It's a fun little story, but the Ozzy part is the many illustrations by West's friend and frequent collaborator, W. W. Denslow. I'm glad Berman is finding these unusual items and making them available to a broader modern audience.
  • This goaround, I got to enjoy two vintage Oz items, the 1961 Reilly and Lee picture book adaptations of The Land of Oz and Ozma of Oz, both illustrated by Dick Martin. They leave out enough of the adventures to jar long-term Oz fans like myself, but they're more tightly plotted as a result, and Dick Martin's pictures are always wonderful. I'd like to see some enterprising publisher take all four of these picture books (they also put out The Wizard of Oz and Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz) and reissue them in a large omnibus volume.
  • I've been sent two books to review, and the first is Lessons from Oz by Julienne La Fleur. I hope I can get the review of this up soon on my website's review page, but I can tell you that this is, at its core, an Ozzy version of Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, with little lessons we can all pick up on from The Movie. It's a charming little book, but not for most hardcore Oz fans, I fear. The second book was a pre-publication copy, so I don't think I can disclose what it is yet, but the review will be appearing in a future issue of The Baum Bugle. Let's just say that this is one a lot of Oz fans are going to want, particularly if they already have the first two volumes of this trilogy of translations (and I may have said too much alaready). I'll try to remember when this book goes on sale so that I can tell you about it.
  • Comics! In manhwa, I read volume 4 of Dorothy of Oz by Son Hee-Joon. Tin Woodsman has an interesting run-in with one of his own kind, and doesn't necessarily come out all the better for it. And we finally get to meet the lion at the end, too — right before the "To be continued" tag. Well, at least we know there will be a volume 5, and I suspect a few more after that, too.
  • I also read some manga, with volume 3 and volume 4 of Toto: The Wonderful Adventure by Yuko Osada. Kakashi found out some interesting information about his father, and Dorothy attempts to pass her test for a belt in tornado senjutsu. Then, in a trip to Garrot City, the gang gets wrapped up with Alice and the Wonder Gang (no, Oz is not the only series Osada is tapping in this series, it appears), and as a result, events from early in the series catch up with Kakashi. This is another series that has already promised a volume 5, and I suspect there will be more.
  • Also continuing (but both with ends in sight) are The Land of Oz: Return to the Emerald City by David Hutchison and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz from Marvel. Both are terrific adaptations of the books, and I hope they will continue by adapting more books.
  • And finally, an old-fashioned Oz book again, with Lost in Oz by Joshua Patrick Dudley. Hoo boy, how can I be kind to this one? It's a definite Mary Sue situation, in that the main character is Joshua Patrick Dudley himself, and he's lost in Oz with his twin sister and two best friends. Also, he sets himself up to fulfill a prophecy, but how he gets there would really tick off a lot of Oz fans. He knows the books, even though the Joshua in the book only knows The Movie, but not terribly well, in my opinion. The characters, by the way, are not only lost in Oz, they're lost in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the book, and in their attempts to get home, they find Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin woodman, and the Cowardly Lion (and Toto, too!) — and end up getting incorporated into and changing the story! It's a good thing they have a copy of the book with them so they can see what's going on. There is a second book, which I've ordered, so we'll see if changing Oz history is going to have any consequences, or if a parrot-ox is going to help sort things out.

That's all for now. I'm not sure if I'll get to read a lot more Oz before my summer break, but if I do, I'll try to remember to blog it here once I've read it rather than waiting.

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