The Road to Oz

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The Road to Oz
TheRoadToOz.jpg
First edition
Author L. Frank Baum
Illustrator John R. Neill
Country United States
Language English
Series The Oz Books
Genre Children's novel
Publisher Reilly & Britton
Publication date
1909
Media type Print (hardcover)
ISBN NA
Preceded by Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz
Followed by The Emerald City of Oz

The Road to Oz: In Which Is Related How Dorothy Gale of Kansas, The Shaggy Man, Button Bright, and Polychrome the Rainbow's Daughter Met on an Enchanted Road and Followed it All the Way to the Marvelous Land of Oz. is the fifth of L. Frank Baum's Land of Oz books. It was originally published on July 10, 1909 and documents Dorothy's fourth visit to Oz.

The book was dedicated to Joslyn Stanton Baum, the author's first grandson, the child of Baum's eldest son Frank Joslyn Baum.

Plot summary

Dorothy is near her home in Kansas when the story begins. She and her dog Toto first meet the Shaggy Man, a wandering hobo who carries the Love Magnet with him, en route to avoid the town of Butterfield. Further on, the road splits into seven paths. They take the seventh and soon meet Button-Bright, a little boy in a sailor's outfit who is always getting lost. Later, the companions meet Polychrome the Rainbow's Daughter, a fairy who danced off the edge of the rainbow just as it disappeared.

Dorothy, Toto, the Shaggy Man, Button-Bright, and Polychrome soon come to the town of Foxville, where anthropomorphic foxes live. With prompting from King Dox of Foxville, Dorothy deduces that she's on another "fairy adventure" that will ultimately lead her to Oz, just in time for Ozma's birthday party, which is now acknowledged as August 21 by Oz fans, even though the book only refers to the 21st of the month, Dorothy having mentioned that the current month is August in another passage. The king takes a particular liking to Button Bright, whom he considers astute and clever due to his tabula rasa-like mind. Believing that the human face does not suit one so clever, Dox gives him a fox's head. A similar event subsequently happens to the Shaggy Man, when King Kik-a-Bray of Dunkiton confers a donkey's head upon him—also in reward for cleverness, even though it's implied that Foxville and Dunkiton exist at odds with one another.

After meeting the Musicker, who produces music from his breath, and fighting off the head-throwing Scoodlers, Dorothy and her companions reach the edge of the Deadly Desert surrounding Oz. There, the Shaggy Man's friend Johnny Dooit builds a "sand-boat" by which they may cross. This is necessary, because physical contact with the desert's sands, as of this book and Ozma of Oz, will turn the travelers to dust.

Upon reaching Oz, Dorothy and her companions are welcomed by Tik-Tok and Billina the Yellow Hen. They proceed in company, to come in their travels to the Truth Pond, where Button Bright and the Shaggy Man regain their true heads by bathing in its waters. They meet the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow, and Jack Pumpkinhead who journey with them to the Emerald City for Ozma's birthday. Dorothy meets up with Princess Ozma as her chariot is pulled in by the Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger.

As preparations for Ozma's birthday party are made, the guests include Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, Cowardly Lion, the Wizard of Oz, Jack Pumpkinhead, Sawhorse, Tik-Tok, Billina, Jellia Jamb, Woggle-bug, Hungry Tiger, the Good Witch of the North, Shaggy Man, Button-Bright, Polychrome, and characters from all over Nonestica (such as Santa Claus, a band of Ryls, and a bunch of Knooks from the Forest of Burzee, Queen Zixi of Ix, the Queen of Merryland, four wooden soldiers, and the Candy Man from Merryland, the Braided Man from Boboland's Pyramid Mountain, the Royal Family of the Land of Ev, King Bud and Princess Fluff from Noland, and John Dough, Chick the Cherub, Para Bruin the Rubber Bear from Hiland and Loland) as well as invitations to King Dox, King Kik-a-Bray, and Johnny Dooit. The Shaggy Man receives permission to stay in Oz permanently. He is given, in addition to this, a new suit of clothes having bobtails in place of his former costume's ragged edges, so that he may retain his name and identity.

After everyone has presented their gifts and feasted at a banquet in Ozma's honor, the Wizard of Oz demonstrates a method of using bubbles as transportation by which to send everyone home. Polychrome goes home upon a rainbow, Button-Bright goes home with Santa Claus on a soap bubble, and Dorothy is wished home by Ozma's use of the Magic Belt.

Publication history

The sales figures of Baum's other fantasy novels always lagged behind his Oz novels; it has therefore been theorized that the "guest appearances" of his non-Oz characters in The Road to Oz were a marketing ploy to raise interest in those other titles.

This is the only Oz book to be printed on colored pages instead of with colored pictures. The colored pages represent the signature colors of the various countries of Oz that Dorothy and her companions travel through on their way to the Emerald City.

The Tin Woodman's garden features images of Dorothy and Toto, representing them as they first arrived in Oz. The illustrator, John R. Neill, apparently takes this description literally, by causing the statues to resemble the illustrations made by his predecessor Denslow. This is in contrast to the "real" Dorothy, who is drawn here much as she is drawn in all books illustrated by John R. Neill. It is implied that she is amused by the differences present; she has apparently lost weight, as well as changed her attire.

External links


The Oz books
Previous book:
Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz
The Road to Oz
1909
Next book:
The Emerald City of Oz