The Road to Oz

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The Road to Oz
First edition
AuthorL. Frank Baum
IllustratorJohn R. Neill
CountryUnited States
SeriesThe Oz Books
GenreChildren's novel
PublisherReilly & Britton
Publication date
Media typePrint (hardcover)
Preceded byDorothy and the Wizard in Oz 
Followed byThe 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 the adventures of Dorothy Gale's fourth visit to the Land of 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[edit]

While Dorothy Gale is at home in Kansas one day, she and her pet dog Toto meet the Shaggy Man who comes walking past the Gale farm. He is a friendly, yet slightly senile hobo with an optimistic, care free mentality. He politely asks Dorothy for directions to Butterfield, which is the nearest town on the prairie. The girl agrees to show him the way, bringing her dog with her. Further on, the road splits into seven paths. They take the seventh one and soon find themselves lost in what appears to be another dimension. The trio meets Button-Bright, a cute and wealthy little boy in a sailor's outfit who is always getting lost. Later, the companions encounter Polychrome, the beautiful and ethereal Daughter of the Rainbow who is stranded on earth. Polychrome explains that she accidentally fell off her father's bow while dancing on it. The bow ascended into the atmosphere and back into the clouds before she was able to climb her way back on it, thus being left behind.

Dorothy, Toto, the Shaggy Man, Button-Bright, and Polychrome eventually come to the peculiar town of Foxville, where anthropomorphic foxes live. With prompting from King Dox of Foxville, Dorothy deduces that she and Toto are obviously on another "fairy adventure" that will ultimately lead them to magical Land of Oz, just in time for Princess Ozma's royal 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 is 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 Scoodlers, who fight by removing their own heads and throwing them at the travelers, Dorothy and her companions reach the edge of the fatal Deadly Desert completely 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 (1907), will turn the travelers to dust.

Upon reaching Oz, Dorothy and her companions are warmly welcomed by the mechanical man 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 imperial capital called Emerald City for Ozma's grand birthday bash. Dorothy meets up with 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 lavish banquet in Ozma's honor, the Wizard of Oz demonstrates a method of using bubbles as transportation by which to send everyone home. Polychrome is finally found by her rainbow family and she is magically lifted into the sky when she climbs back onto her bow. Button-Bright goes home with Santa Claus in a soap bubble. Dorothy and Toto are finally wished back home to Kansas again by Ozma's use of the Magic Belt.

Publication History[edit]

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, W.W. Denslow. This is in contrast to the "real" Dorothy, who is drawn here much as she is drawn in all of the Oz books illustrated by 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[edit]

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