So What Are You Reading?

Reviews of Books.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

How The Wizard Saved Oz

How The Wizard Saved Oz by Donald Abbott

How The Wizard Saved Oz is Donald Abbott's second book about the Wizard of Oz's adventures in Oz before Dorothy arrives there. The first book, How The Wizard Came To Oz, tells the story of how a circus ventriloquist rides a lighter than air ballon through a storm, lands in Oz, and is proclaimed a powerful wizard by the gullible people who live there.
In this book, the Queen of the Field Mice asks the Wizard for help in finding the field mice of Oz. All her subjects have suddenly disappeared, leaving behind only a scrap of cloth from a tailor who lives far to the north in the land of the Gillikins. The two set out to ask the tailor about the possible owner of the scrap. Instead of the tailor, they come across Mombi, a wicked witch with a nefarious plan to steal all the magic in Oz. Can a small mouse and a humbug wizard outwit an evil witch and save the field mice and all of Oz?
Abbott wrote a total of six early Oz stories that he illustrated himself in the style of the first illustrator of Oz, W. W. Denslow. They are prequels to the first two Oz books by L. Frank Baum that will entertain people who want more about Oz.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

How The Wizard Came To Oz

How The Wizard Came To Oz, by Donald Abbott

How The Wizard Came To Oz is a 1991 prequel to the L. Frank Baum book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Donald Abbott wrote 6 books and illustrated a couple more between 1991 and 1998 for The Emerald City Press. The Wonderful Wiki of Oz describes him as follows:
"He maintains an allegiance to what might be called 'early Oz' — his books are set early in the chronology established by the Oz books, even to the point of being prequels to Baum's novels. Abbott draws connections with early Baum books like Father Goose and with the 1902 stage musical adaptation of the first Oz book. He is also known for maintaining a style of graphic art that is modeled on that of W. W. Denslow, the original Oz illustrator."
The major difference between this book and the new Disney movie, Oz The Great and Powerful, is that Abbott's book is a prequel to Baum's book, where the movie is a prequel to the 1939 MGM movie The Wizard of Oz. Here we find a traveling circus ventriloquist who gets carried away in a lighter than air balloon and lands in the western region of Oz populated by Winkies and ruled by the Wicked Witch of the West. Struggling against this witch and her sister the Wicked Witch of the East, the simple and gentle Oz is secretly helped by Glinda the Good.
As the story progresses, Abbott introduces a lot of the major characters of the Baum series: the scarecrow, the tin man, the flying monkeys, the guardian of the gate, and the royal army. Being a prequel, we know how it will end, but for those who have read Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, this is a well crafted story, especially for children, with information about how the wizard came to be. It is more faithful than imaginative, and breaks little new ground. His illustrations in the style of W. W. Denslow are delightful and truly add to the story.
How the Wizard Came To Oz is still available from Books of Wonder.