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The Reading Jackalope

Emerald City of Oz

Emerald City of Oz - L. Frank Baum, John R. Neill Ah yes, the Nome King gets angry and tries to invade OZ (with three of his most dangerous buddies), but all is saved by dues ex machina. This is the closest OZ ever came to any real danger and also one of the better plotlines Baum ever had. Interspersed with that plot is the one where Dorothy and her Aunt and Uncle, having moved permanently to OZ, travel around OZ exploring all the wonders of that fairyland. I think the wonders of OZ are nicely played against the dangerous background. The alternating chapters of the evil plotters versus the innocent Dorothy exploring Oz are a nice way to build the tension in the book.

This was one of my favorites when I was younger and it’s nice to see that it’s held up. There are an abundance of puns (more so then any previous book that I remember) in some of the sections, and for people who don’t enjoy puns that could get annoying. But I enjoyed them when I was younger and I still enjoy them now.

I really enjoyed the problems facing Uncle Henry and Aunt Em in the loss of their farm; it’s real and creates pathos. Though I will say, sometimes it’s hard to remember that this was written in 1910, long before the Great Depression. The movie has just so firmly cemented that time frame on the story. Uncle Henry and Aunt Em have become two favorites on this re-read simply because they’re really honest and decent folk, Americana at its best if you will.

Further notations of Baum’s inconsistencies- The Emerald City is now truly full of emeralds, where as in the first book it only appeared so because of the green glasses you had to put on to enter the city. These drove me bonkers when I first read the books, can’t say I’m liking them any more now but it’s a bit more fun to find them. It becomes a treasure hunt of sorts.

Some things of note:
- I either didn’t notice or forgot how much I enjoyed the snarky Chief Counselor, the lackadaisical Chief Steward, and the practical Chief General they are great counterparts to the Nome King. It’s fun to see the Nome King interact with his subservients all of them clearly smarter then he is.

-There is a weakness in the text with the evil creatures. They have no reason for their wickedness beyond being born that way. However once they drink from the magic fountain, they are good? I’m not sure that makes logical sense. Baum didn’t want to trouble his stories with the issue of good and evil, and so that might be the cause of that weakness.

-The note at the end of the book about how this is the last Oz story that will ever be told is amusing considering it is the sixth out of fourteen Oz books that Baum wrote, and then there are the numerous other Oz books by others. Poor Baum, he really wanted to get away from Oz.