Review: Oz Series (Books 1-5) – Frank L Baum


This review is a little different, in that this month I’ve dedicated to reading the Oz series. Most people are aware of the story of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz from the amazing 1939 movie with Judy Garland, but the actual story, the world that the movie is based on, is so much more. It’s a 14 book epic series, it’s about more than just a little girl whose house lands on a wicked witch, it’s a vibrant world full of weird and wonderful characters – some who are familiar and others who aren’t so much.

Three of the stories are present in the beautiful Penguin Threads edition that I own and have used as the image for this post because, truly, this book is beautiful. I cannot compliment this series of books enough – the Threads series that is – they are absolutely beautiful with decaled edges and the overall design and feel, it’s just beautiful. I only wish that they had published the entirety of the Oz series, rather than just books 1, 6 and 14 (I think) because there really is not a uniform series that is pretty.

Vanity over, on to the books. This has to be one of my ultimate middle-grade series of books. I didn’t realise it was a book until I was about 14 or 15, by that point it had long been my favourite movie and I devoured the first book numerous times. My first copy of this book is now falling apart. I knew there were more books in the series but I was somewhat reluctant to read them as I love the first so much as a stand alone. However, Lesley over at WordsofAReader on YouTube is doing a Children’s Literature Month wherein she’s reading only children’s/middle-grade fiction so I thought I’d challenge myself to read the entire series. Easy!

Book one is the story we’re all familiar with, but it’s very different to the movie (for example, the shoes are silver not red. A little fact is that the red shoes were used on film as it picked up better in technicolour). While all the key elements are there, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion; Witches and Wizards… but there was also more. Rather than just magically going home, there’s more to the story after the Wizard flies away in his balloon.

From there, the series ventures out and explores the world of Oz a bit more. Book Two (The Marvellous Land of Oz) is about a young boy called Tip who isn’t quite who he seems. His adventures with his friends Jack Pumpkinhead and Saw-Horse lead him to Dorothy’s old friends, Scarecrow and Tin Man.

Book Three (Ozma of Oz) is another adventure with Dorothy, who finds herself in a magical land once again with a Princess who wants to take her head (quite literally), the lost Princess of Oz comes and saves her along with all her old and new friends; but freedom for her isn’t easy. Eventually her little hen Billina saves the day.

Book Four (Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz) we find out what the old Wizard got up to. It was a little more disjointed than the three previous books, and possibly my least favourite of the series. With weird vegetable people it seems it was at this point Baum really wanted a break from this world! This discombobulation sort of carried over to Book Five (The Road to Oz) and I feel that the new characters introduced in this book – Polychrome especially – had a huge amount of wasted potential.

At this point I had a slump, so I paused my reading for a while and will be continuing in December and hope to finish the rest of the series!

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