The summer after fourth grade, I spent one Saturday reading three of L. Frank Baum's sequels to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Tik-Tok of Oz, Rinkitink in Oz, and The Scarecrow of Oz. Reading Leo Moser and Carol Nelson's marvelous book, Halloween in Oz: Dorothy Returns, brings all of those memories back.
It features Dorothy Gale, an orphan living with her aunt and uncle on a remote Kansas Farm in 1900. The eleven-year-old blond is lonely, and her only friend, Tim Gault, along with her aunt and uncle, thinks she shouldn't do things "girls" don't normally do. Dorothy is rebellious, and believes with a new century, girls should be able to do anything boys do.
Dorothy is particularly lonely since she lost her only picture of her parents in her trip to Oz. Suddenly, she starts to dream about that picture, and her parents telling her she needs to return to Oz, because it's Halloween, and trouble in brewing. The unusual purple and silver ribbons found by Tim allow Dorothy and Toto to return, only to run into a boy who resembles Tim, a boy named Mitt who tends pigs for an old woman named Salmanta who is trying to gather magic during the thirteen days of Halloween in Oz.
Readers will recognize some of the characters in this book, Tin-man, Scarecrow and Glinda, the Good Witch. Other characters will be familiar to readers of Baum's books, Punk N Hedd, the pumpkin who becomes a man, and Tik-toc. This is a comfort read for anyone raised on L. Frank Baum's books.
However, nothing is comfortable in Dorothy's adventures. As in all good fantasy books, Halloween in Oz is a story of good versus evil. Dorothy and Mitt must gather than friends, and rally the troops for a large battle of the good animals and people of the land opposing Salmanta's magical forces. Moser and Nelson have written an exciting story that keeps the reader turning pages to see how Dorothy will deal with the wicked woman and her magic. The humorous touches relieve the anxiety. Mitt himself is funny at times, as are some of Dorothy's other friends, such as Punk N Hedd, with his fear of rotting or being eaten. In Oz, Dorothy argues with Mitt, instead of Tim, about a girl's ability to do anything a boy can do.
Just as Baum did, Moser and Nelson leave questions unanswered that allow room for sequels. Anyone who enjoys the fantasy stories that preceded C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia and J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, will appreciate Halloween in Oz: Dorothy Returns.