Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Classic Oz Characters in the Real World

Ever Since The Wizard of Oz was first published in 1900, Dorothy and her companions have captured the imaginations of Americans, both young and old. Generations of readers raised on L. Frank Baum’s incredible Oz books, and on books by his worthy successors, will be amazed and entranced by Martin Gardner’s exciting account of further adventures of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodman in the United States. Indeed, by placing the story in Manhattan of the late 1990s, with cameo appearances by Rudy Giuliani, Oprah Winfrey, and Geraldo Rivera, Gardner has for the first time ingeniously adapted Baum’s immortal characters to an American setting.

While a century’s worth of readers has enjoyed the Oz series, it is not generally known that in Baum’s fifth Oz book, Ozma teleported Dorothy and her aunt and uncle permanently to Oz. Nor is it known that Glinda moved Oz to a parallel world. In Gardner’s wild novel, Dorothy and her faithful friends visit several towns in Oz- including Wonderland, a new Mount Olympus, and Ballville- before they arrive in New York’s Central Park by way of a mathematical curiosity called a Klein Bottle.

The purpose of their visit to Earth is to publicize a new musical film about Oz. But plans go awry when two evil mobsters, hired by a wicked rival movie producer, try to kill Dorothy and her companions. In their desperate attempts to flee these villains, Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodman find themselves in a series of precarious predicaments across New York City. Combining vivid suspense with a host of mathematical riddles and technological pyrotechnics, Martin Gardner has created a new fable in the finest tradition of L. Frank Baum that celebrates the power of imaginations and the lure of an ageless heroine named Dorothy at the turn of a new century.

A jewel of a story, Visitors from Oz will bedazzle children and adults alike for decades to come.

Title: Visitors from Oz: The Wild Adventures of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodman
Author: Martin Gardner
Illustrator: Ted Enik
Published: 1998
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pages: 189
Genre: Fiction-Fantasy

Sequels to and stories about The Wizard of Oz have proven to be very popular over the last 100 years since the first story was published by L. Frank Baum, making them some of the most immortal characters of all time. The mathematician and author, Martin Gardner manages to
mix the old with something entirely new in this clever little story called Visitors from Oz: The Wild Adventures of Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodman.

When I was younger I read a few of the Oz books and again when I was a little older but somehow I never did manage to read all of them. Although Gardner refers to many characters from the Oz books he also explains who they are for the most part so people like me who aren’t entirely familiar with the classic characters from the original stories don’t become hopelessly confused.

From what I remember though, the characters in this Oz do seem to be the same as Baum portrayed them even if the illustrations included in the book by Ted Enik don’t resemble the original ones at all. They are beautiful though and I really liked how well they depict the story.

I simply adored Visitors from Oz but I didn’t think I would like the story at first because it starts off so slow (and confusing!) but once Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodman left on their journey and started visiting the other lands inside Oz, I was instantly hooked. I loved all three lands that they visited but my favorite would have to be Wonderland. The best lines in the whole book take place there:

The pink caterpillar turned the end of his hookah toward the straw man. "But who are you?" The Scarecrow did his best to explain. "And who are you?" the caterpillar asked the tin man. After the Tin Woodman told his story, the caterpillar waggled his head from side to side. "We've had plenty of weirdos visit Wonderland, in and out of sleep, but you two take the cake."
I sincerely hope that Martin Gardner decides to write another sequel to this! I would love to visit more “Ozzy towns”!

There isn’t too much information on Martin Gardner online but Wikipedia has an interesting article on him as well as on all the books about Oz. The International Wizard of Oz Club is mentioned several times in the preface as well as their magazine the Baum Bugle.

First Paragraph: N/A

Source: Borrowed from husband's aunt

Related Reviews
Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
Disney's Alice in Wonderland (1951)
The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor

Picture Explanations
Illustrations by Ted Enik


  1. Aha! Nicely done. I was debating about if I should read sequels to the Oz books that aren't written by Baum when I complete the original series. This review may have decided it for me.

    Even if it's only this book. It looks really good! Thanks, Jen.

  2. Gotta love the classic Oz books! I noticed you are a Shelfari member, I am too. I find way too much time on the net blogging about books, on shelfari, etc... I should be reading! I enjoyed your reviews.

  3. Did you see The Tinman on Sci-Fi?

    I love Zooey Deschanel (sp?), so I had to see it, even though... and I realize I'm a weirdo here... the original Wizard of Oz movie totally creeps me out.

  4. I've seen commercials for The Tinman but still haven't seen it. I hardly ever turn the TV on anymore except to watch movies.

    Aw, I'm sorry The Wizard of Oz gives you the creeps! I can't help but like it because of Judy Garland and Ray Bolger but I can see where it wouldn't be on someone's list of favorites. In the book Visitors from Oz no one really liked it either but that was mainly because of the ending.

  5. Someday I may get around to reading the original books. And then maybe I'll try for the sequels. I did read Wicked awhile ago and enjoyed it quite a bit. I've always wondered how much of it was influenced by Baum's original books as opposed to the movie, which was a childhood staple in my house.



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