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The Salt Sorcerer of Oz

Author: Eric Shanower
Genre: Fantasy
Reviewed by Rachel Fischer Gladson

558Unknown to many young readers today, L. Frank Baum documented the further adventures of Dorothy Gale from Kansas in the land of Oz in a series of 14 books that were popular in their day. The demand for Oz stories was such that subsequent "Royal Historians", including Baum's successor Ruth Plumly Thompson, added some more volumes to that series. Although the mass popularity of Oz has waned since the 1950s, professional and amateur authors have continued publishing all sorts of poetry and prose based on these characters.

Eric Shanower is no stranger to the land of Oz. He has written and illustrated five graphic novels with original Oz stories, illustrated several full length Oz books, and contributed artwork, poetry and prose to International Wizard of Oz Club periodicals. His graphic renditions of the most beloved Oz personalities are similar to those of John R. Neil, who illustrated most of the Oz books.

The Salt Sorcerer of Oz contains six poems and six short stories all beautifully illustrated by Shanower. The poems are most reminiscent of Thompson's rhymes and rhythms. The short stories contain various well known Oz characters—Dorothy, Glinda, the Patchwork Girl, Kabumpo and the Frogman—and introduce a few of Shanower's own creation.

A magic magnet draws Kabumpo the Elegant Elephant into a quest to end a sulphur rain in "The Salt Sorcerer of Oz". "Dorothy and the Mushroom Queen" and "The Ballon-Girl of Oz" are the only stories which feature Dorothy Gale of Kansas. "The Further Adventures of the Frogman" explores the consequences of truthfulness, not only in words but in actions. "Gugu and the Kalidahs" is a tale about the wild animals of the forest in Oz. "The Silver Jug" tells the story of Glinda's curious and headstrong handmaiden Amanda as she deals with the consequences of uncorking magic. Her travels outside the Deadly Desert which borders the land of Oz are told in a manner reminiscent of Baum.

The illustrations alone make the book a definite must for the Oz enthusiast, but the stories show that Shanower is likely to be crowned as a Royal Historian for his authorship alone. Although Shanower injects some modern day political correctness into The Salt Sorcerer, he does so tongue-in-cheek. Baum might have done the same.

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June 14, 2004 in Fantasy | Permalink

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