Guide for Parents
Book Two: Crown of the Dreamer
This review is based on the format used by Common Sense Media (http://www.commonsensemedia.org). This is not an official Common Sense Media review. The author created this review to give parents an idea of what the book contained, to determine whether or not it would be appropriate for their children to read.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this book is part of a prequel series to L. Frank Baum’s novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The character names are familiar, but the characters themselves are youthful and inexperienced. They make mistakes, get angry, and do things normal to young people, but very different from their older selves encountered in Baum’s books. The story takes place in the year 1854 A.D., forty-six years before Dorothy enters the Emerald City. Oscar is the Wonderful Wizard, and he has established the Emerald City based on the foundations of liberty, freedom, hard work, and responsibility. Many people have come to the Emerald City because they want the freedom to live as they choose, but many have come simply because they want wealthy and feel like they should be in charge of things. They don’t do much except follow social trends, attend parties, and congratulate themselves on being important. The author takes a low view of these type of self-congratulatory people.
The story is written at a fifth-grade reading level. The subject matter explores many emotionally heavy topics, such as loyalty, friendship, betrayal, manipulation, isolation, depression, fear, and loss. Young readers may identify with some of these topics as they are growing up. Oscar is the central figure in the story who experiences these things, and the other characters experience the strong emotions and life-changing events as they interact with him.
The characters of Glinda and Oscar were in love, and they still are, but they are very distant from each other. Oscar is building and ruling the Emerald City, and Glinda is building and ruling the land of the South. They don’t see each other very often, and their expectations for their relationship lead to problems. In addition, Oscar suffers from sleep deprivation. He is starting to see hallucinations. The magic of Oz brings these hallucinations and dreams to life. Oscar is exhausted and does not think clearly. This makes him an easy target for other people who want to selfishly manipulate his power.
As a character, Glinda acts impulsively and makes many youthful mistakes, causing problems for everyone. This is intended to demonstrate the cause-and-effect consequences of actions. Mistakes made by one person often affect many people. Acting without full information, acting in anger, or acting to manipulate others may cause problems that might not be immediately apparent. The story is an illustration of the many sides of the story experienced by one person. Only by understanding the different sides can you understand why things happened this way. In many respects, Glinda does not act like a hero. She is accused by another character of being “well on her way to becoming wicked.” The characters are not divided into good-guys and bad-guys. Each character has their goals and motivations, and the story comes from the conflict of the characters taking action to accomplish their goals.
This book is the second of many planned stories in The Hidden History of Oz series. The main series is intended for readers age 10 and older.
This story is written at a fifth-grade reading level. For unfamiliar words, readers may want to use a dictionary, or figure the meaning out themselves through context.
Readers may be interested in comparing some parts of the story to L. Frank Baum’s original novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, to see how everything fits together.
This story is a prequel, or a story that comes before another already-told story. Comparing The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to this story gives many answers to questions that L. Frank Baum did not answer in his book.
The story explores emotionally heavy topics, such as loyalty, betrayal, manipulation of others, isolation, and depression. As characters deal properly and improperly with these situations, the reader is shown the results of these actions.
Depression causes (and can be caused by) isolation, fear, sleep deprivation, sadness, loneliness, and despair. As Oscar deals with each of these things, the characters around him at different times in the story try to help him or try to control him. His actions and responses are based on real-world experiences that the author has with these emotions. The hard things that Oscar goes through are intended to demonstrate the right ways and the wrong ways to deal with these conditions and situations.
Much of this story deals with the consequences of hasty actions. Many of the characters are young, and act without thinking. The story illustrates the consequences of their actions, and how each action affects other people.
Omby-Amby is a good and loyal friend to Oscar. He puts the safety and well-being of his friend above his own. He works to help Oscar get through the darkness of depression and despair.
Oscar wants to help Glinda keep her promise to free the Winged Monkeys. His heart is in the right place in wanting to do good, but he allows himself to be manipulated, causing more problems.
Ola Griffin comforts Glinda when she is having a hard time. She finds ways to do good and be helpful through using her talents of singing and playing a musical instrument.
Positive Role Models
Eyve is a plucky young teen who believes in good. She believes in honesty, fair play, and loyalty. She is quick-thinking and solves problems.
Promethus is an older man who acts as a mentor to Glinda. His is very protective of Ola Griffin, and cares for her after her accident.
Oscar wants to help Glinda keep her promise to free the Winged Monkeys from slavery. If he can get the Golden Cap from the Wicked Witch of the West, he can give it to Glinda. Then she can free the Winged Monkeys. Though Oscar does not succeed in his goal, his intentions were good.
Kally cannot lie to her sister, Ondri-baba. Even though she is there to cause problems, she cannot lie to her.
Winged Monkeys always tell the truth. They are full of mischief, but they do not lie.
Mombi helps Glinda understand why the Wizard is troubled. She gives Glinda advice on how to deal with the Wizard’s past.
A character uses a pistol from a nightmare to shoot automatons (robots) in the real world. Automatons fight with, and are destroyed by, human soldiers in battle. A monster injures several characters in battle. An important non-human character is shot with an arrow and stabbed in the back (to save another character). An inventor character creates a small magical creature out of shadow and then crushes it under his foot. A character falls halfway into a magic portal and receives deep scratches on her legs.
A character is encased in a magical trap like amber.
Monsters fight against human soldiers. Soldiers are injured in battle, and some die, but there is no gore or graphic depictions of violence.
Romance / Sex
Glinda feels jealous when Oscar looks at other girls. Glinda manipulates Oscar to try to make him love her. Oscar sees Glinda in the arms of an older man. He doesn’t understand the situation, and he assumes that Glinda loves the man. Oscar asks Kally for a good-night kiss before he falls asleep. An older man and a young woman flirt. Omby-Amby and Wickrie-Kells get engaged to be married. Wickrie-Kells’ parents make them sleep in separate bedrooms when they visit because they are not yet married.
A character uses words like “pish-posh” and “fiddlesticks” when she is frustrated. Characters intentionally mislead other characters. Characters argue strongly with other characters, using emotional (but not profane) words.
A character purchases an army of automatons (robots) with pearls. Pearls are the most precious stone in the Land of Oz. Discussion of purchasing land and people with a giant pearl.
Drinking, Drugs, and Smoking
What is the story?
Oscar Diggs, the Wizard, is the central figure in Oz. He has built the Emerald City through his dreams every night for the past two years. The people love him, and they constantly surround him. While he tries to please everyone, Oscar pushes himself too hard and gets exhausted. The magic of Oz brings his dreams to life. With sleep deprivation eroding his sanity, Oscar’s dreams start to affect the waking world by bringing shadows to life. He is betrayed by one of his best friends, and rejects her to find companionship next to a new girl, Kally, who is really a Witch in disguise. Glinda searches the land for Oscar, but he is securely under the control of the Witch. After a poorly-planned attack on another Witch’s castle, Oscar is recovered by Glinda’s soldiers. Kally wants Oscar back, and commissions an inhuman army to battle Glinda’s human soldiers to get him back. Oscar cannot think clearly. His delusions turn him against everyone, which leads to a cliffhanger ending.
Is it any good?
The adventures in the story are exciting, and the characters move the story along well. Each character has their own motivations, and each character’s actions affect the other characters.
Glinda is the main character in this story. She starts out being self-centered and moody. As she searches for the Wizard, she learns more about his past and comes to understand him better. As the story progresses, she truly wants to help the Wizard and keep him near so that she can help him. Unfortunately, she does not ask him what he wants. Glinda makes decisions for most of the characters in the story, which creates a lot of conflict.
The themes of depression and dealing with the shadows of the past provide several points of view for dealing with these troubles. The characters all have to deal—in one way or another—with the Wizard’s troubles.
The cliffhanger ending is abrupt and does not provide closure for the story. This may upset some readers.
Families can talk about
Glinda wants to control Oscar so that he will see just how lucky he is to have her. How does this attitude determine Glinda’s actions? Is this an appropriate way for her to deal with other people? How does behavior affect those around Glinda?
Glinda hypnotizes Oscar to discover his deepest secrets. What problems does this create? Should one person manipulate another person when they are not thinking clearly? What problems can this cause?
At the beginning of the story, one character mentions that it has been six months since all of their friends have been together. Why is it important to maintain close contact with your friends? What happened in the story when friends did not stay close? How could things have been different?
Glinda is jealous of any other girls that Oscar looks at. This leads to Glinda punishing both Oscar and the girl (Ola) for the way that she feels. Is this appropriate? How should Glinda have dealt with her feelings of jealousy? What consequences came as a result of Ola’s punishment? How could these have been avoided?
Glinda delays taking action on fixing Ola’s punishment. What happens next? How could Glinda have acted differently? How do you think that would have affected her friendship with Ola?
Oscar accepts the companionship of Kally, a girl who manipulates him. Even though Oscar knows he is being manipulated, why does he stay with Kally? Why does Oscar work so hard for a person that he barely knows? Have you ever had a friend that manipulated you? How did it feel, and what did you do?
Oscar uses his talents of ventriloquism to navigate through the mazes. Why is it important to recognize our talents and skills? How can you use your talents and skills to solve problems?
Wickrie-Kells gets all of the Fighting Girls to swear that they will not look for love until Glinda and Oscar get together. What is the importance of an oath like this? Was this an appropriate situation in which to swear an oath? Should you take oaths seriously? Why or why not?
When Glinda finds Oscar again, she puts him in shackles (handcuffs). Was this a good solution? Why or why not? How could Glinda have approached the situation differently?
Glinda realizes the terrible power of the pistol. She knows that she is the reason that this weapon is in Oz. She buries the pistol. Is it possible to bury mistakes? How should you deal with mistakes? What could Glinda have done differently?
|Genre||Fantasy / Adventure|
|Topics||Friendship, Adventure, Loyalty, Betrayal, Depression, Anger, Dreams, Isolation, Sleep Deprivation|
|Publisher||Emerald Engine Studios|
|Publication Date||September 10, 2013|
|Number of pages||341|
|Publisher’s recommended ages||10 and up|
|Available on (platforms)||Paperback, Kindle, digital|