Review of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Oz, #1) by L. Frank Baum

As whimsical and intriguing as the film. As timeless and humorous and charming. As off-kilter and unique. 

But can it sustain the delicate balance of childish wonder, nostalgia, and creepy subtext, the Alice and Wonderland dreaminess, for a dozen books? This splendid series has spawned a recognizable aesthetic, probably due to the subtly unnerving drawings printed in some additions. While I still enjoy the second film more than the first, will the second book manage to deepen the lore, or challenge the constrains of children’s literature in the same way? The artistic current of rococo sentimentality and memorable creature-design runs through countless films, establishing a gold standard for decades. As far as books go, Peter Pan-ish homages and similar forays into dreamland recur with frequency, contributing to the great, cosmic zeitgeist of anthropomorphic bedtime stories reaching back to the beginning of time.

Review of The Marvelous Land of Oz (Oz, #2) by L. Frank Baum

The darkly amusing saga continues in this slightly less consistent sequel to the classic children’s tale of Oz. 

We are back in the magical land, but without Dorothy and the frame story. Noticing quite a few differences between this and Return to Oz, the film, I can tell that they brought in material from the third book and left out less compelling parts from this one. I think the choice was good. This book is entertaining, diverting, and charming, but not quite classic. Tip, Mombi, Pumpkin head, the sawhorse, and Woggle-Bug amuse, confound, and contribute in surprising ways to the wayward adventure. The most compelling aspect of Baum’s imagination is making us imagine things and creatures that defy the brain’s logic, yet operate well within the world he’s created. There’s never a scientific explanation to bog down the narrative. Instead, magic reigns supreme, but the rules and riddles it brings make a twisted sort of sense.

Review of Ozma of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Very much in line with the film, Return to Oz, a personal favorite of mine.

Rife with weird objets d’art and dramatic situations void of any real danger. The underground fortress and faint-hearted exploration were reminiscent of Narnia, which is to say I was entertained and sometimes absorbed. It boils down to a rather simple but effective fantasy story, magical enough, if regarded through the uncircumspect eyes of childhood. I may continue through this infinitely nostalgic series, zipping through the audiobooks. The world effectively resides in my psyche now, so that I might visit Oz in my spare moments, only slightly distracted by the haphazard nature of this creative paradise.