Saturday, August 01, 2020

The Latest Oz Reading

Well, that cropped up more quickly than I intended! Our last comics order included Sky Island by Amy Chu and Janet K. Lee, the follow-up to Sea Sirens which I just wrote about the other day. Rather than wait for my Oz reading to come around again to read it, I thought I'd just read it next. It's the start of summer vacation, and Trot is looking forward to surfing a lot. But she and Cap'n Bill get an urgent message from King Anko: It seems Merla's been kidnapped! Caught in a fishing net, the Sirens need someone on the surface who can help them find her. Clia comes along, however (and boy does she have a hard time dealing with legs at first), and Anko is available ab back-up. A mysterious symbol leads them to Sky Island, a forgotten old amusement park on an island west of Catalina. They enlist the aid of Rosalie, the daughter of the park's developer (Trot's grandfather knows her), and they sneak in. Rosalie's family lost the island in a shady land grab, and the new owner has rebuilt the park for himself. In his private aquarium, Trot and Clia find Merla, who doesn't want to leave! She feels disrespected by the Sirens, and has been made Queen of the aquarium. But when the owner, eccentric billionaire Claude Buluru turns up, he shows his true colors and tries to kill Trot and Clia, turning Merla against him. Cap'n Bill escapes and summons Anko, who puts an end to Buluru's operations. It turns out Buluru forged the deed to the island, and he never owned it to begin with, so Rosalie takes over and decides to reopen Sky Island as an amusement park again.

Well, this was certainly fun, but this is even less like Baum's Sky Island than Sea Sirens was like The Sea Fairies. Yeah, we get a few characters with the same names, but that's about it! No magic umbrella, no pinks vs. blues tensions, nothing like that. Nevertheless, this is a fun read, and it has some great character development and gorgeous art. And the location of this book's Sky Island is probably meant to invoke the location of the first Sky Island—the one Trot, Cap'n Bill, and Button-bright first wanted to go to in the book that they didn't know the name of.

So now Chu and Lee have taken on Trot and Cap'n Bill's first two adventures. Will there be more? And if so, will they look to the Oz books, especially The Scarecrow of Oz and The Magic of Oz for inspiration? I think, however, they should just go their own direction, and give this Trot and Cap'n Bill their own, original adventures that aren't necessarily based on anything by L. Frank Baum.

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