The Road to Oz is a strange book in a series of strange books.
Dorothy and Toto are out for a walk in Kansas when they meet a hobo named the Shaggy Man. The Shaggy Man is carrying the love magnet – which makes everyone instantly love him. Dorothy, Toto, and the Shaggy Man decide to walk together. Soon, they meet a lost little boy named Button-Bright, who doesn’t know much.
The road branches off into seven roads. They take a road at random and find themselves in Fairy Land. They have a series of adventures, and meet Polychrome, the Rainbow’s Daughter, who became lost when she slid off the curve of the rainbow. Polychrome joins the adventurers.
They learn that Ozma, the transgender ruler of Oz, is having a birthday celebration in The Emerald City. Ozma is Dorothy’s friend, so she wants to continue through Fairy Land to Oz. (Ozma has made Dorothy a Princess of Oz, by the way.) The rest of the adventurers have other reasons to want to meet Ozma – except Button-Bright, who doesn’t know much, and is just along for the ride. Once they arrive in Oz, having crossed the Deadly Desert in a sand-boat, they meet almost every character ever introduced in all the previous Oz books – Scarecrow, The Cowardly Lion and The Hungry Tiger, Tik-tok, Billina the yellow hen, The Tin Woodman, Jack Pumpkinhead, and on and on.
At Ozma’s birthday celebration, we meet all the other Oz characters we didn’t meet on the way to The Emerald City – including The Good Witch of The North. We also meet new characters, including Santa Claus. (Yes, the Santa Claus!)
Then the book ends abruptly after the celebration, with several characters sent home via bubbles blown by The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy is sent home via her magic belt.
I got the feeling that L. Frank Baum was trying to wrap up the story with this fourth sequel, touching base with all the books’ characters before saying goodbye. Either that, or he’d given in to writing more sequels and wanted to make sure his readers remembered the previous characters.