The End (And Not The End) of Oz

I have finished the sixth book in the “Land of Oz” series – The Emerald City of Oz – and I am voting it my favorite book in the series (so far). I really loved this one.

The Emerald City of Oz has a little bit of everything.

It has danger and suspense, with the Nome King enlisting the aid of some truly evil races in a seemingly perfect plan to invade and destroy Oz. Ozma learns of this plan, but is so good she refuses to fight back. She refuses the help of the armies of the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman. Oz seems doomed, and Ozma has accepted her fate and the fate of her people.

The book tells us about the social and political structure of Oz. Basically, Ozma has absolute power, she owns everything, she can spy on anyone, and absolutely everyone within Oz loves her. There is no money in Oz, no sickness, no hunger, and no one ever dies accidentally.

We learn of the realities of life in Kansas for Uncle Henry and Aunt Em, and what it’s like to have an adopted daughter who disappears for long stretches of time, and then returns with tales of a strange fairy land.

There is a road trip through Oz, where we meet plenty of strange and silly villages and kingdoms, like Bunbury, where everything, and everyone, is made of baked goods, and Bunnybury, inhabited by anthropomorphized rabbits. There’s a village of jigsaw puzzle people who don’t mind falling apart as long as someone has fun putting them back together. There are the Rigmaroles, who answer simple yes or no questions with several paragraphs, and the Flutterbudgets, who worry about everything.

And there are plenty of puns in this book. The wordplay seemed to have gotten lost in previous books, but now it’s back in full-force. In the kingdom of Utensia, where everyone is a kitchen utensil, the corkscrew is a lawyer because he’s used to appearing at the bar – but he’s crooked. During a disagreement, the flatiron attempts to smooth things out. The knife makes cutting remarks. The colander is the High Priest because he’s the holiest thing around. And so on.

Here’s the thing about The Emerald City of Oz: It was obviously intended to be the end of the series. The author tells us so at the end of the book. There’s even a goodbye note from Dorothy. We will never hear anything more about Oz, says Dorothy’s note, and she loves us all.

And there are eight more books in the series. Apparently, L. Frank Baum had a hard time saying “no”.

Next up: The Patchwork Girl of Oz.

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