Children's LiteratureRoger S. Baum tells a fantastical tale of the Cowardly Lion. He earns his title in the Land of Oz while on a quest to find the Flower of Oz that will save his friend, Oscar Zoroaster Diggs (Oz). Roger S. Baum, who is the great-grandson of L. Frank Baum, creator of the Wizard of Oz stories, has written ten Oz books. Composed of rich colors and soft shapes, the illustrations compliment Baum's detailed descriptions of the many new characters such as the lizard-looking Sign Maker. However, the placement of the illustrations in the book is distracting because they often occur before a character is introduced or several pages after the scene they depict (much like some of the illustrations in Baum's original). Friendships form quickly between the new characters and Lion as they encounter multiple mini-adventures, such as saving a sparkle from the gloom. Baum offers minimal description of the surroundings and events leading up to the brief adventures. As a result, the flow of the story is choppy. For example, one chapter ends with the rescue of the Mini-Munchkins, and without a transition, the next begins with Lion and his friends having a conversation with the Sign Maker. Another example involves Lion's discovery of the Flower of Oz. Readers receive several clues about the Flower of Oz throughout the story, but Lion seems unaware of these hints. At the climax of the book, without any discussion or recap of the clues, Lion suddenly knows where to find the Flower of Oz. This weakness in the rising action leaves readers wondering if they have missed a page in the book. Readers may become confused with the lack of transitions but will enjoy the new characters and fast pace of the CowardlyLion's adventuresome quest. 2003 (orig. 1995), Overmountain Press, Ages 9 to 12.