I’ve now read both of the Oz books that appear on the 100 Best Chapter Books list. Ozma of Oz is the third Oz tale and it’s one of the two books that was borrowed from to make the 1985 film Return to Oz with Fairuza Balk. (The other was The Marvelous Land of Oz, book two of the series.)
The full title of this book, at least on the title page of my old Reilly & Lee Co. version, is Ozma of Oz: A Record of Her Adventures with Dorothy Gale of Kansas, the Yellow Hen, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, Tiktok, the Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger; Besides Other Good People too Numerous to Mention Faithfully Recorded Herein. This is the first time that I’ve ever thought that Catherynne M. Valente’s titles are reasonable lengths. And it’s interesting that it assigns Ozma the leading role in the story when it’s actually Dorothy’s tale for the most part — but Ozma is a queen so I assume that’s why she gets top billing!
There’s a lot to like in this book. There are a few new characters to enjoy, like Billina the hen (actually Bill but Dorothy didn’t approve of that), but none so wonderful as Tiktok the Mechanical Man. I first read these books when I was very young and I thought he was the most fantastic thing ever. He was the first “robot” in literature but I didn’t know that, of course. He was just a kind but slightly helpless fellow who was loyal and brave and at the mercy of a little girl who needed to remember to wind him up regularly. And this time, as I read this book with Z, he felt exactly the same way about Tiktok. In fact, this book was a wonderful one to read together. I seem to have a very good chicken voice in my repertoire. Z was creeped out by Princess Languidere, she of the interchangeable heads (and personalities), and furious with the Nome King and brokenhearted at the apparent loss of the Tin Woodman. He actually clapped with joy when the Woodman was found again. It’s amazing for a book that is 105 years old to still get this kind of reaction from a young reader. I couldn’t be happier at how well this story has held up over the years.
I’m definitely going to keep reading the Oz series in order now that I’ve started, at least through the books that I own. If you’re looking to start the series and would like a version of The Wizard of Oz with a completely different look, check out the newly released version from Harper Design with art by Michael Sieben. It’s colorful and has fun fonts and lots of smiles.
The next chapter book is one I’m really, really looking forward to — Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. I might have only read it once or twice as a kid but I watched the movie dozens of times and loved it so I’m going to pair this read with a watch. (The film is streaming on Netflix right now and I’m even willing to do a TweetChat viewing if there’s interest.)
Schedule – April through July
note: dates are not necessarily set in stone – posts may go up a day or two before or after
- April 15 – #33 Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien (1971)
- April 30 – #9 The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (1978)
- May 15 – #17 Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh (1964)
- May 31 – #38 Frindle by Andrew Clements (1996)
- June 15 – #58 Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome (1930) — 1st in a series
- June 30 – #100 Love that Dog by Sharon Creech (2001)
- July 15 – #42 Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright (1957)
- July 31 – #19 Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1932)