Title: The Tin Woodman of Oz
Written by: L. Frank Baum
Series: Book 12 in the Oz series
Publisher: Reilly & Britton
Publish Date: 1918
Genre: Middle Grade Classic!
Source: Borrowed from Library
Buy the Book: The Tin Woodman of Oz
Synopsis: The Tin Woodman sat on his glittering tin throne in the handsome tin hall of his splendid tin castle in the Winkie Country of the Land of Oz.
The Emperor of the Winkies and his old friend the Scarecrow of Oz welcome their inquisitive visitor: Woot, the Wanderer, from faraway Gillikin Country. Soon tales are being told, and memories are flowing . . .
And before they know it, with Woot and the lovely Polychrome, the Rainbow’s Daughter, the Tin Woodman and Scarecrow undertake an astonishing quest, in search of the Tin Man’s lost love, Nimmee Amee — from the days before he was metal! (Via Amazon)
Brian’s Review: What’s that phrase? Patience is a virtue, right? After the disappointment of Scarecrow of Oz, a book that barely even has the Scarecrow in it, and the miserable bore that was Rinki-Tink of Oz, I was close to putting an end to my fourteen-month Oz project. I wasn’t having any fun, and such seemed to be the only real point in this project (aside from having written an Oz fable myself and wanting to learn more about the universe and characters). The Lost Princess of Oz, book 11 in Baum’s initial 14-book series, was a step in the right direction, with a return to a simple and engaging storyline, as well as the characters we know and love. And now, with just three novels to go, I’m so happy to report that Tin Woodman of Oz, book 12, is an absolute joy from beginning to end, and possibly the best of all the sequels.
Tin Woodman of Oz is the book I hoped Scarecrow of Oz to be, a story that would give us backstory on one of the iconic characters from the first book. That book, however, felt like something entirely different, with the Scarecrow appearing in the last third seemingly like an afterthought. Tin Woodman of Oz, on the other hand, focuses entirely on our beloved Nick Chopper, who finally gets the chance to tell his heartbreaking story about the girl he loved but who the Wicked Witch of the East, whose Dorothy’s house later squashed, prevented him from being with. We discover how he used to be a man of flesh and then became all made of tin (in all its gruesome details!), and why obtaining a heart was so important to him in the first place. He ultimately sets out on a journey to find his love Nimmee Amee, with the help from two friends, the Scarecrow, and a new character named Woot. Does he find her and get back together? Will he find true joy again?
Tin Woodman of Oz isn’t a perfect novel by any means. It’s another adventure story, with Oz characters on foot bumping into wild and eccentric characters spurred from Baum’s imagination, but this one rings truer because we generally care about Nick Chopper and his pursuit to find his love. Imagine if J.K. Rowling had written a sequel where Albus Dumbledore set out on a journey to find his childhood love, and you get the idea (wow, what a book that would be!). One section in the middle of the book, where the trio transform into animals, drags a bit, and I also wish the Cowardly Lion could’ve been the third major character here, but the novel’s conclusion is genuinely surprising, in a good way, and the entertainment value in this one exceeds anything in the series since Ozma of Oz, the other great sequel Baum wrote. If you’re interested in reading later Oz books, I would many of the many titles, all so you can get to this one. Tin Woodman of Oz is great fun, and a treat for fans of The Wizard of Oz. I’m so happy I stuck with the series long enough to get to it!
Title: Ozma of Oz
Author: L. Frank Baum
Series: The Oz Books
Publisher: Reilly & Britton
Publish Date: 1907
Genre: Middle Grade Classic
Source: Gift as a Child
Buy the Book: Ozma of Oz
Synopsis: Readers of all ages will welcome the chance to be reunited with Dorothy Gale and such beloved characters as the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion, as well as to meet new favorites such as the Hungry Tiger, whose appetite is never satisfied; Princess Langwidere, who has thirty heads; Billina, a talking chicken; and Tiktok, a mechanical man.
Blown overboard while sailing with her uncle, Dorothy finds herself in the fairy realm of Ev. She sets out with her friends to rescue the Queen of Ev and her ten children, who have been imprisoned by the cruel Nome King. But even Ozma, the wise Ruler of Oz, is no match for the clever king, and it’s up to Dorothy to save everyone from terrible danger. But will the Nome King’s enchantments be too much even for the plucky little girl from Kansas? (Via Amazon)
Note: Since I wrote a YA fantasy novel last year called Over the Rainbow, a subversive modern update of The Wizard of Oz, I’ve become especially interest in all the Oz stories, and I realized at the end of last year that I’ve never taken the time to read the original L. Frank Baum books past the first one. Having still kept the first five books in the series since childhood, I decided to embark on a 14-month challenge, reading one Baum book a month, all the way until the end of 2013, finishing with his final Oz book, Glinda of Oz. This is a review of the third book in the series. (See my reviews for The Wizard of Oz and The Land of Oz here.)
Brian’s Review: I’m going to make a really weird analogy with Ozma of Oz, the third in L. Frank Baum’s beloved Oz series from the early twentieth century: Ozma of Oz is to The Wizard of Oz as A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors is to A Nightmare on Elm Street. The original is the supreme classic, one that can never be topped. The first sequel lost its way a little bit, mainly because the heroine was nowhere to be found. And the third brings the series back to its roots, offering a non-perfect but superbly fun adventure that brings back everything we loved about the original but offers up a few new tricks. I’m sure no one ever thought Wes Craven and L. Frank Baum would ever be mentioned in the same sentence… but they have now!
Ozma of Oz is a total blast, and what feels like the first “true” sequel to the original. True, because Dorothy, whose presence was missed in The Land of Oz, is back in the forefront, meeting up with her old pals The Scarecrow, The Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion, as well as some new faces, like Tik-Tok and Billina. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the plot of Book 3, but it’s a rousing adventure, in which Dorothy and her clan of misfits have to stop an evil king from turning all of his prisoners into ornaments. This mostly heinous and deadly serious Nome King is a solid Oz villain, one who offers more fear and dread than the Wicked Witch of the West ever did in the first book. And Ozma herself, who gives the book its title but works alongside Dorothy as an equal, makes for a fantastic addition to the text. Tik-Tok is also a lot of fun, too, and Billina, this witty, talking hen, provides the comic relief.
The Land of Oz was fun but something was definitely missing, and that thing was Dorothy. Baum says in his foreword that thousands of kids wrote to him to pen another Oz book, but to please, please, please bring Dorothy back. So Baum gave the kids what they wanted, and he gave us all of us another gem in his canon. Sure, it’s a little difficult to get past all those adverbs—Baum loves them even more than J.K. Rowling does—but that’s part of the fun of reading an older book like this. I have a feeling the later Oz books might get a little tiresome, but this third entry in the series was just as much fun as the first book. It’s not a story that necessarily made a better transition to the big screen (the maligned 1985 sequel Return to Oz is mostly based on this book), but it’s not a lesser sequel in any respect. I’m really loving this fantasy series and can’t wait to read the next one, Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz!