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The Emerald City of Oz: 03/20/20

The Emerald City of Oz

The Emerald City of Oz by L. Frank Baum is the sixth and final book of the original core story arc. It's the point where Baum with his failing health wanted to call it quits but was later persuaded by fans and publisher to write eight more as well as a collection of short stories.

This novel breaks with traditional children's fantasy series in that Dorothy's aunt and uncle as they are days away from losing their farm to foreclosure, are invited to move to the Emerald City by Ozma herself. Typically at the end of a series, the child traveler is too old to continue exploring the alternate world and either is pushed out by failing magic or grows up enough to believe that visiting a fantasy land is too childish.

The Emerald City of Oz is unusual for another reason: it has parallel plots between Dorothy and her aunt and uncle, and the Nome King's attempted invasion of Oz via a tunnel.

For this post, I'm going to focus on Dorthy and her family because it uses the tropes of the memoir road trips that were just starting to come into vogue with the advent of the automobile and the planning of the first transcontinental freeway, the Lincoln Highway.

When Henry and Em have trouble adjusting to life in the palace, Ozma suggests that they take their buggy, a small entourage, and go on a tour of Oz. That sounds good, but they end up being the stereotypical rude road-trippers who treat the small towns they visit as their tourist destinations.

Their half of the story, which in page count is really more like two-thirds of the book, fits low in the road narrative spectrum. It's a unique placement for a fantasy series book. The travelers is Dorothy and her family (33). The destination is a tour of utopia, aka Oz (FF). They take the paved roads of Oz which given the pre-interstate time period for this book, would be prototype Blue Highways (33). All together, The Emerald City of Oz is the tale of a family on a road trip through utopia via the Blue Highway (33FF33).

Five stars

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