Outsiders from Oz, by Jared Davis – It’s always a bit tricky reviewing a book by someone you know personally, but in the Oz community this can be difficult to avoid. I did quite like the book, which was an adventure of mostly familiar Oz characters in lands outside Oz itself. It was also a follow-up to The Magical Monarch of Mo, particularly the story about King Scowleyow and the Cast-Iron Man. I know Button-Bright is one of Jared’s favorite characters, and while some stories make him primarily a nuisance (recall the part in Glinda of Oz where Glinda has to stop the journey to Skeezer Lake to save the boy from wild animals), this book gives him a chance to shine. We also see the reformation of Ruggedo, something not unique to this story, but handled well. L. Frank Baum himself tried to reform the old Nome King a few times, but kept bringing him back as a villain anyway.
One character in Outsiders who deserves particular note is Lola the Zoop. The Zoop was actually a creature who appeared in a few of Baum’s silent films, but never made it into the books. It’s sort of ape-like, but with a tail like a kangaroo. It’s quite possible that it was just a costume someone working on the movies happened to find, and Baum called it a Zoop. The title cards to The Patchwork Girl of Oz and The Magic Cloak of Oz refer to it as “the lonesome Zoop.” In Outsiders, Jared gives some background to Zoops, making them residents of Orkland and very skilled diggers.