Thursday, July 04, 2024

The Latest Oz Reading

Yup, catching up on some more Oz and Oz-adjacent reading I've done lately (for certain nebulous definitions of the word "lately"):

  • "Heart of Tin", the first novella in Dorothy Must Die Stories Volume 2 by Danielle Paige. Yeah, besides the main Dorothy Must Die series, Paige wrote a bunch of interrelated novellas, each from the viewpoint of a different character. As you can probably guess from the title, this one is about the Tin Woodman. It seems the heart the Wizard gave him worked a little too well, as he decides that he has fallen in love with Dorothy, and is sad that he'll probably never see her again. You can imagine his delight when she comes back to Oz, but he's confused and disappointed when she doesn't return that love. But his feelings become even more befuddled when Dorothy and Glinda use him and his love for Dorothy to carry out their agenda, and turn Tin into something even he doesn't understand. All I'm going to say about this one is, I think I'm going to need a complete Dorothy Must Die timeline once I finish the final novella (and there are five more to go)!
  • The Silver Shoes of Oz by Marin Elizabeth Xiques. This is both a reread and a new book, as this was originally published by Tails of the Cowardly Lion and Friends oer thirty years ago, and became one of their most requested reprints once it went out of print. Not long before he died, publisher Chris Dulabone finally put out a new, print-on-demand edition, which is what I read recently, even though I also have the first edition. Coming back across the Deadly Desert from a diplomatic mission to Foxville and Dunkiton, Ozma finds the long-missing Silver Shoes and brings them back to the Emerald City. Betsy Bobbin wants to investigate all the powers of the shoes, so she is allowed to take them out on an adventure with Scraps to test them out. Together, Betsy and Scraps find new Ozian villages, find out more about the shoes, and foil yet another attempt to conquer Oz. It's fun, if not particularly earth-shattering. The illustrations are by the late Chris Sterling, and I forgot just how good of an Oz illustrator he was.
  • Death Sleeps Lightly by Rachel C. Payes, the writer first published as Rachel C. Cosgrove. Yes, I'm still trying to acquire all the works of this Royal Historian, and this is one of her earliest after her foray into Oz. It's a murder mystery, in which young secretary Jill Haynes takes up a position on an isolated island assisting Mrs. Weber. Soon after she starts the job, Mrs. Weber dies under mysterious circumstances. Naturally murder is suspected, and as the most recent arrival to the household Jill is about the only one not suspected of the crime. Her curious nature leads to her snooping around and uncovering all kinds of clues, which eventually leads to the killer's identity. It's not a groundbreaking example of the genre, but Rachel plays the cards well and keeps everyone on their toes. She even throws in a little romance with Jill's attraction to the dashing chauffeur.
  • The Umbrellaphant in Oz by Carol P. Silva and Marin Elizabeth Xiques. Another latter-day offering from Tails of the Cowardly Lion and Friends. It's been a little while, and I don't remember much about it. But the star is Umbo, the flying umbrellaphant seen in Captain Salt in Oz, and he ends up saving the animals of the Springbok Forest (visited in many Tails books) from a three-eyed witch. I may have to reread this one sooner than anticipated.
  • Pick Your Own Quest: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Connor Hoover. Remember the old Choose Your Own Adventure Books? Yeah, this is in the same vein. You take the role of Dorothy and have to make choices along the way that can veer the story off in all kinds of directions you never anticipated. You may end up going home alone, or with one of your new Ozian friends. You may help an army of Scarecrows overrun the Emerald City. You may end up living in Oz, or stranded on a desert island. This was a lot of fun, and some of the storylines were very imaginative. But at only 135 pages and over thirty different endings, they tended to go very quickly! I'd love to see someone try to tackle a bigger, richer version of this, with more to do and even more ways to explore Oz.
  • Green by Alex Gino. I got this to take part in Down the Yellow Brick Pod's book club. I got it about a week before the meeting, so I had to put aside another book and tear through it! Fortunately, it's a short enough read that I got it done in plenty of time. Green is a non-binary middle school student with a supportive family and friends. Lately, they've been having odd feelings around another student, Ronnie. Green's not sure if Ronnie, who is definitely a cis male, would be interested in a non-binary person like them. But when the school puts on a less-than-traditional version of The Wizard of Oz, Green and Ronnie are thrown into a lot of work together as they both try to figure out their feelings. This was a fun read, and an eye-opener for this old cis guy. Green is a great kid, but they have to go through all the same angst that all the rest of us have to go through in middle school, and it all feels very raw and authentic to me. Now I want to compile a list of stories that revolve around putting on a stage production of The Wizard of Oz, as I now have at least a half dozen of them in my collection.
  • Finally, a book I may never quite get around to reading, but I've wanted to get El Mago de Oz: Edición Anotada for years now, but the few times I ever saw it for sale it was way out of my range. But I recently tried to find it again and discovered Buscalibre not only had it, it was on sale, so I snatched it up. I've been studying and learning Spanish for some time now, and this may be the ultimate test (well, before I try Don Quixote, at least). It's a translation of the 2000 edition of The Annotated Wizard of Oz by Michael Patrick Hearn, but this one is even bigger than that book because the text of The Wizard of Oz is in both the original English and a Spanish translation. This may be one to wait on until I'm retired.

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