“You were always beautiful,” said Dorothy. “You just needed a little help to find that out for yourself.”Roger S. Baum, The Rewolf of Oz
L. Frank Baum’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren have added much to the literature and cultural position of his Oz books. One of his great-grandsons, Roger S. Baum, has written a number of books set in Oz and revolving around the original characters from those books.
One of Roger’s picture books is The Rewolf of Oz. It’s a short adventure for Dorothy and her three original companions – the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Lion. In the story, they are exploring meadows in Oz (the map in the endpapers suggests it is a whole new area we have not previously visited south of the Munchkin kingdom) where there is a large population of honeybees ruled by a queen. They are frustrated because people keep ruining the flowers they need for making honey and enlist Dorothy and her friends to stop the Rewolf from continuing to ravage their meadows. Never one to turn down a request for help, Dorothy leaps into action and the problem is solved in short order.
I was not terribly enchanted with this particular book, either the story or the art. The art style is cute, but the pictures are so clearly drawing from the movie instead of the books, even though the text is clearly steeped in the book world of the original series, that I found it distracting and odd. Dorothy even wears her original blue gingham pinafore and red shoes, as if this is set during that first adventure instead of sometime after she has moved to Oz!
The story itself felt a bit too focused on it’s lesson and didn’t spend much energy on the imaginative world and characters involved. And the culmination of the lesson felt far too reminiscent of Glinda’s speech at the end of the 1939 movie about Dorothy always having power but having to find it herself, which does not exist in the book. I am not at all opposed to the movie or things that reference it, but this felt odd and awkward throughout.
I appreciate the attempt to make a new story in a familiar and wonderful fantasy world, but I don’t feel like this one lives up to the Oz stories that inspired it or even seems to honor them very well. It’s not awful, but I also wouldn’t recommend it. There are far better Oz stories out there, even from Roger!