Ozma of Oz

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Ozma of Oz
The original 1907 book cover by John R. Neill.
First edition cover
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
Media type Print (hardcover)
Preceded by The Marvelous Land of Oz
Followed by Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz

Ozma of Oz: A Record of Her Adventures with Dorothy Gale of Kansas, Billina the Yellow Hen, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman, Tik-Tok, the Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger; Besides Other Good People too Numerous to Mention Faithfully Recorded Herein published on July 30, 1907, was the third book of L. Frank Baum's Oz series. It was the first in which Baum was clearly intending a series of Oz books.[1]

It is the first Oz book where the majority of the action takes place outside of the Land of Oz. Only the final two chapters take place in Oz itself.[2] This reflects a subtle change in theme: in the first book, Oz is the dangerous land through which Dorothy must win her way back to Kansas; in the third, Oz is the end and aim of the book.[3] Dorothy's desire to return home is not as desperate as in the first book, and it is her uncle's need for her rather than hers for him that makes her return.[4]

It was illustrated throughout in color by artist John R. Neill.

The book bore the following dedication: "To all the boys and girls who read my stories – and especially to the Dorothys – this book is lovingly dedicated."

Plot summary[edit]

It has been roughly five years since The Wonderful Wizard of Oz took place. And Uncle Henry has been ordered by his doctor to take a vacation from the stress and labor of having to replace the Kansas farmhouse due to the first one being swept away in a cyclone. He is accompanied by his niece Dorothy Gale (this is the first of the Oz books in which the reader learns her last name) while aboard a small steamship headed to Australia while Aunt Em and Dorothy's pet dog Toto, stay behind to look after the newly built farmhouse. While traveling on the sea, a terrible storm suddenly hits, bringing rain and lightning and tosses the little ship violently over the waves. Henry and Dorothy are separated when she is accidentally thrown overboard and cast away into the water along with Billina, a yellow hen that was also onboard. The two take refuge in a wooden crate floating nearby.

The next morning Dorothy and Billina wash ashore to an unknown region. Once on dry land, Dorothy picks something to eat from a lunch pail tree. She guesses that they are in a "fairy country" because lunch pails do not normally grow on average trees and animals like Billina, who can now suddenly speak words, do not talk. However, Dorothy knows they are not in the Land of Oz because that realm has no seashore. After the meal they come across a message inscribed in the sand: "BEWARE THE WHEELERS"! Soon they meet these gaudily dressed, loud-yelling creatures who have wheels instead of hands and feet, and roll around on all fours. Dorothy and Billina climb a rocky mountain to escape them and find a door carved into its side. Having found the key by the door, they open it and find Tik-Tok, a round copper mechanical man whom they activate by winding up all three of his clockwork motors (one each for thinking, motion and speech) with the key like a wind-up toy.

Tik-Tok tells Dorothy and Billina that they are in the Land of Ev, which has recently lost its royal family after they were enslaved by the evil Nome King who dwells in a neighboring kingdom. He protects them from the Wheelers and takes them to the royal residence where the head-exchanging Princess Langwidere resides. It turns out that Langwidere is the spoiled and highly vain niece of the deceased king of Ev. When Dorothy refuses to let Langwidere take her head to add to her collection, she has a tantrum and locks them away in a high tower within the palace. Tik-Tok stops in mid-motion unable to move again until he is wound up with the key, thus he is unable to help Dorothy and Billina who are now the prisoners of the princess.

A color illustration from the book.

Luckily, Princess Ozma and her Royal Court of Oz, (many of whom appeared in the two previous Oz books) just happen to cross over the Deadly Desert with the aid of a magic carpet provided by Glinda the Good Witch to free the royal family of Ev. Upon arriving Ozma has Dorothy and Billina released from Langwidere's custody. Cheerful reunions are had by the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion, and new introductions are made to Ozma and the Hungry Tiger, a massive tiger hamstrung by his conscience.

The expedition journeys to the underground kingdom of the Nomes, where the Nome King reveals that he has cleverly turned the royal family into decor ornaments around his underground palace. The Oz people are given the option to guess which ornaments they are (he does not reveal that they are royal purple ones), but if they fail to guess correctly, they will also become ornaments themselves. Ozma, the twenty-seven soldiers of the Royal Army of Oz, including the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman, and Tik-Tok all suffer this bizzare fate. Dorothy escapes it only by touching a purple ornament in one of her lucky guesses. When the guests from Oz retire one night, Billina learns which of the Nome King's ornaments were once people and about the Magic Belt that he wears.

Billina was originally not going to be allowed to guess, but she so infuriates the Nome King by laying an egg (poisonous to any Nome) under his throne that he lets her guess anyways. All of her guesses turn out to be right, thanks to her learning his transformation secrets. He commands his army to recapture all of them by force, but Dorothy takes the magic belt, the Army's sole private takes the offensive, and Billina's eggs are left in the Nomes' paths so they do not dare follow.

After returning the royal family of Ev (the queen mother, five boys, and five girls) to their rightful forms and place, Ozma, Dorothy, and the others finally return to the country of Oz where a great victory celebration is held in the Emerald City's royal palace. Dorothy is officially made a Princess of Oz, Billina elects to remain in Oz, and Ozma uses the magic belt to send Dorothy to Australia where she is happily reunited with her Uncle Henry.


L. Frank Baum revisited this story for the plot of his 1913 musical The Tik-Tok Man of Oz, starring James C. Morton and Fred Woodward. Aside from Tik-Tok, a princess named Ozma, and a visit to the Nome King's domain, the similarities between the book and the finished play were minimal, allowing Baum to re-adapt the latter as the eighth Oz book, Tik-Tok of Oz, in 1914.

Elements from Ozma of Oz and the previous novel, The Marvelous Land of Oz, were incorporated into the 1985 film Return to Oz, featuring Fairuza Balk as Dorothy. Although most of the plot was taken from Ozma, the action was chiefly relocated to the derelict Emerald City, ruled by Princess Mombi (Princess Langwidere in all but name) and her Wheelers. In the second half of the film, Dorothy, Billina, Tik-Tok, Jack Pumpkinhead, and the Gump traveled to the Nome King's mountain, to rescue the Scarecrow from the King's ornament collection, which were emerald green unlike the book’s royal purple. The 1939 film's famous ruby slippers were used in place of the magic belt.

The 1986 anime adaptation of the first novel included this story. It was later shortened and edited into a single feature for United States VHS and Laserdisc (and later DVD) release.

The book was also made into a Canadian animated feature film in 1987 called Dorothy Meets Ozma of Oz. It is a condensed version, running only 28 minutes. A video release features a live introduction by actor Michael Gross.


  1. ^ Peter Glassman, "Afterword," p 271 L. Frank Baum, Ozma of Oz, ISBN 0-688-06632-1
  2. ^ Michael O. Riley, Oz and Beyond: The Fantasy World of L. Frank Baum, p 135, ISBN 0-7006-0832-X
  3. ^ Michael O. Riley, Oz and Beyond: The Fantasy World of L. Frank Baum, p 137, ISBN 0-7006-0832-X
  4. ^ Peter Glassman, "Afterword," p 271 L. Frank Baum, Ozma of Oz, ISBN 0-688-06632-1

External links[edit]

The Oz books
Previous book:
The Marvelous Land of Oz
Ozma of Oz
Next book:
Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz