Top critical review
Stay away from girls named Gale
on March 20, 2015
Originally posted, with appropriate formatting and links, at Fantasy Literature.
If you happen to know Dorothy Gale, let me advise you to stay away from her. The girl attracts natural disasters like she’s some sort of magnet. This time, it’s an earthquake. Dorothy and her cousin Zeb are traveling on a wagon in California when it strikes. Down they go into a big crack in the earth and keep falling until they land in a city made of glass buildings. There are several clues that they have entered a fairy realm: Zeb’s horse (Jim) and Dorothy’s kitten (Eureka) can suddenly talk, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz (who was also in California) shows up with nine tiny piglets in his pocket, and the inhabitants of the city turn out to be made of vegetable matter. Dorothy and her friends can’t get out of the earth the way they came, so they decide to try to walk to Oz where they know they’ll be welcome.
First they are nearly killed while trying to fight their way past the vegetable people. Then they are nearly killed when they travel through a land where the inhabitants eat a fruit that makes them invisible so they don’t get eaten by the local bears. Then they get captured and nearly killed by wooden “gargoyles.” Finally they make it to Oz where Dorothy introduces her traveling companions to all of her old friends and the reader gets to spend time with their favorite Oz characters (Ozma, Cowardly Lion, Tin Man, Scarecrow, Billina, Hungry Tiger, Sawhorse, Woggle-bug, etc.).
There are some continuity problems with Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz. At the end of the last book (Ozma of Oz), we are told:
…it was arranged that every Saturday morning Ozma would look at Dorothy in her magic picture, wherever the little girl might chance to be. And, if she saw Dorothy make a certain signal, then Ozma would know that the little Kansas girl wanted to revisit the Land of Oz, and by means of the Nome King’s magic belt would wish that she might instantly return.
But here Dorothy tells us:
“…Well, every day at four o’clock Ozma has promised to look at me in that picture, and if I am in need of help I am to make her a certain sign and she will put on the Nome King’s Magic Belt and wish me to be with her in Oz.”
Not only does Baum get it wrong in this book, but if Dorothy thought she had the power at 4:00 every day to wish herself to Oz, why the heck didn’t she do that instead of dragging her friends through all these life-threatening situations? Also, the invisible people warned Dorothy et al that they would have to sneak past the gargoyles, so why didn’t they bring the fruit that would make them invisible? Even the children who Baum is writing for are going to be asking these questions.
Still, Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz is fairly entertaining because it features the cute absurdities that Baum is so good at. There are a couple of thoughtful bits, too, such as the realization that if everyone in your town was invisible, you would care a lot more about your personality and behavior than about how you look or dress.
I enjoyed Claire Bronson’s narration of the audio version I listened to. You can “buy” the free Kindle version and then add narration for a couple of dollars.