The Road to Oz, Book Five of the Oz Series

When the Hungry Tiger assures Dorothy (as usual) that he wants to eat babies, Dorothy tells her new friends, “He says he longs to eat fat babies; but the truth is he is never hungry at all, ’cause he gets plenty to eat; and I don’t s’pose he’d hurt anybody even if he was hungry.” The Hungry Tiger tells her to knock it off: “It isn’t what we are, but what folks think we are, that counts in this world” (185). The Tiger acknowledges he is a fraud.

Finally, Santa Claus canonically exists within the Oz universe, where he is considered a more respected and important personage than even Ozma: “The jolliest person present, as well as the most important, was of course, old Santa Claus” (239).

Each installment of the Oz series opens with a short preface giving thanks to the readers, but they often indicate that Baum would prefer to be writing about something else. He is more clearly running out of steam in The Road to Oz than earlier on. Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz opens with Baum saying, “The children won’t let me stop telling tales of the Land of Oz. I know lots of other stories, and I hope to tell them, some time or other; but just now my loving tyrants won’t allow me. They cry: ‘Oz—Oz! more about Oz, Mr. Baum!’ and what can I do but obey their commands?” Baum repeats this idea in the preface to The Road to Oz. But he also indicates, for the first time, some kind of plan for the next installment: “Since this book was written I have received some very remarkable news from The Land of Oz, which has greatly astonished me. I believe it will astonish you, too, my dears, when you hear it. But it is such a long and exciting story that it must be saved for another book—and perhaps that book will be the last story that will ever be told about the Land of Oz.”

While there are a few interesting moments like gasps of air I take while trying to stay afloat in a sea of boring fluff, I can see why the 1986 Oz anime skipped this book and Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz. Next time, we’ll see how The Emerald City of Oz, the intended grand finale, lives up to the boots it has to fill. But that must be saved for another post.

Thanks for reading! 🤗