Sunday, February 27, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday plus our first giveaway

Rinkitink in OZ

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday again, my fourth week of this great idea started by Shannon Whitney Messenger. I am back from Gelsenkirchen, Germany, and decided to focus on one of my favorite books from my childhood. For those interested in the giveaway, details are most of the way down this page.

When I was growing up, my whole family was obsessed with the Wizard of Oz books. Aside from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and a couple of the sequels, it was hard to find these books, mostly published between 1900 and 1920, but my parents searched and discovered many of them. Fortunately for kids today, many have been re-released in the past few years, so it much easier to track them down now than it was forty years ago.

After the first few books had made L. Frank Baum rich and famous, he became increasingly desperate to write something other than Oz books, but his fans were relentless. He compromised by writing outside-of-Oz books which dealt with the wonderful lands outside the Deadly Desert, but which were still filled with the wondrous, magical creatures and people that his young fans demanded.

In my opinion, the very best of these non-Oz Oz books was Rinkitink in OZ (click on image above or this name to find out more ordering choices). A delightful story of a young prince who sets out to rescue his parents with only the help of three magic pearls, a very fat visiting king and a quarrelsome goat, this story has stood the test of time wonderfully. The humor, the adventure and the excitement are as lively today as they were in 1916, and the language is surprisingly fresh and easy for modern children to follow. Those few words which are out of date today are easily understood in context, and the pace is faster than some of the OZ books, and thus more palatable for today's youth than some of the others.

Best of all, this is a book practically begging to be read aloud. It would be perfect for either a classroom or for parents who want to share the story with their children. This is a book not to be missed. Please note that my link above is to the hardcover only because it has the cover I knew as a child. The book is in the public domain, and can be had for free or very little on Kindle, or in low-priced mass paperback from Signet and others. And if you and your kids like this, there are many other Oz books as well. (Hint: After L. Frank Baum died, Ruth Plumly Thompson wrote a few Oz books that are equally excellent.)

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday was started by Shannon Whitney Messenger. I don't know yet whether she had a chance to post today, but a few others have taken up the task in recent weeks, including Joanne Fritz at My Brain on Books, Shannon O'Donnell at Book Dreaming, Brooke Favero at somewhere in the middle and Myrna Foster at Night Writer. Sherrie Petersen has an awesome MMGM post with an interview and giveaway bonus. If you watch those blogs today, as well as Shannon's blog, you are likely to find other great middle grade book recommendations.

For those who have patiently read all the way down to here, I am giving away two books that I have reviewed for My Comfy Chair.

Tom Sawyer and the Ghosts of Summer    Grey Griffins: The Clockwork Chronicles #1: The Brimstone Key

To enter the giveaway, make sure you are a follower and post a comment letting me know which of the two books you would prefer. For this giveaway, I am going to request only U.S. or Canadian entries, as I don't know the cost of shipping overseas. If your profile doesn't list an email address, let me know how to contact you for a physical address if you win. Winners will be chosen on Friday, so you have until the end of the day Thursday to enter.

My review of Tom Sawyer and the Ghosts of Summer
My review of The Brimstone Key


  1. Great post! We need to keep those kids reading. I would be interested in the Brimstone Key. I've had it in my wishlist for a while.
    new follower

    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

  2. Nice review, Ben! I love the Oz books, which delve into so much more than the original book did. But now I feel sorry for Frank Baum, having to keep writing about the same world and characters, just to please his readers.

    Thanks for the linkage. I only just now posted my MMGM review. I would be interested in the Brimstone Key also.

    (Btw, I had a contest a few months ago and it cost me $18 to mail two hardcover books to the Philippines! So yeah, it can get expensive!)

  3. I have wondered for a long time about the other Oz books, but wasn't sure if they were worth reading. You've convinced me they are more than worth it! Great review.

    Thanks for linking to my blog. :-) And I would love to win the Tom Sawyer book!

  4. The Brimstone Key sounds really good. Sounds like one my daughter would like.

  5. I loved the Oz books! My favorite was the one with the princess who had a whole room full of different heads she could put on. Wouldn't that be fun?

  6. Joanne - To be honest, I liked several of the Oz books more than the original.

    Carrie - I remember the ones with the room full of heads, and can even picture the illustrations, but I don't recall the name. If you know, would you remind me. (Otherwise, it's off to consult Google.)

  7. I've never heard of this particular Oz book, and it looks like just the sort of book I'd read to my son. Thanks for the recommendation!

    And I'd be interested in "Tom Sawyer and the Ghosts of Summer."

  8. Some great books here. The Brimstone Key has been on my "to read" list for quite some time. Thanks for the chance to win!

  9. Thanks for the link and the great recommendation. I haven't read any of the other Oz books but this one sounds great. So does the Tom Sawyer book.

  10. Loved your reviews and am glad to have found you (via the crusade yahoo chat). As a cruader and late follower, I'd love a chance to win the Tom Sawyer book based off of your review and recommendation! Thanks, Christy (lynnea(dot)west(at)gmail(dot)com

  11. Great review. How's your WIP map going? I would love Tom Sawyer.

  12. I'm not entering (not US/Canada), but will add the link to your giveaway on my blog. :)