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Jane Austen, Anna Quindlen

Ozma of Oz

Ozma of Oz - L. Frank Baum The original title for this was...Ozma of Oz: A Record of Her Adventures with Dorothy Gale of Kansas, Billina the Yellow Hen, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman, Tik-Tok, the Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger; Besides Other Good People too Numerous to Mention Faithfully Recorded Herein.

You gotta think Baum was just fucking with his readers at this point.

L. Frank Baum: Full-Time Author, Part-Time Prick

This time around Dorothy is on a voyage to Australia to help soothe her Uncle Henry's rattled nerves (running a farm with hair-brain, heartless, cowardly help will do that to you!) when a storm washes her overboard. She ends up in a fairyland, as per usual, and from there her journey takes her on an adventure, which does not quite live up to the epic nature of the well-known film, The Wizard of Oz, but is entertaining nonetheless.

Along the way she meets many interesting and fun new characters like Tik-Tok the wind-up machine, a many-headed princess, the subterranean Nome King, and my favorite, Billina the smart and sassy talking chicken. As that ridiculously long subtitle suggests, Dorothy also reunites with her old pals from her previous adventures.

The story drags occasionally and the plot is not masterly. Seldom does the action near nail-biting excitement. It's Baum's inventive character creations that are the real draw. He's also good at sprinkling into his dialogue some clever double entendre and light gibes, though his intended victims probably barely smarting from the ineffectual attacks.

Baum knew his audience was young and female, and while his stories can be enjoyed by all, there is definitely a feminine leaning. The female:male ratio of characters is heavily in favor of women, or more specifically, girls. The main character is a girl. The rulers of the fairylands tend to be princesses. The wizards are often women and, you may recall, the one male wizard turned out to be a fraud! Quite frankly I think this is a refreshing kind of world-building for its time!

Rating Note: This feels more like 3.5 stars.