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The Real Oz

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JackFavell
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Joined: April 20th, 2009, 9:56 am

The Real Oz

Postby JackFavell » December 29th, 2010, 12:51 pm

Hey, kingrat -

I don't know if I have much to say about the Oz books, except that I read them when I was a kid. I haven't read them since, but maybe I need to go through them again.

I had a yen to go to Oz myself, turning every opportunity into an attempt to get there. Jumping out of a swing high up off the ground, I thought maybe I would manage to get there if I just swung high enough....and leaped. :D

My least favorite was Dorothy and the Wizard, I had a lot of trouble getting through it and it gave me nightmares for some reason. My favorites were Ozma of Oz, Speedy, and I really loved Sky Island and Sea Fairies, which strictly speaking, not Oz books. I was very partial to Trot and Cap'n Bill. I'd be curious to see what I would like now. Of course, any animal who speaks in the books was my immediate favorite.

kingrat
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Joined: August 20th, 2009, 2:46 pm

Re: The Real Oz

Postby kingrat » December 29th, 2010, 5:00 pm

Yes, I loved all the talking animals and fantastic creatures. Also all the books about the Nome King, my favorite villain, and I loved people being transformed into different things. Yes, Ozma of Oz was one of the best. My mother read The Wizard of Oz to me before I could read, and the only memory I have of one grandfather is waiting outside the hospital while a family friend read The Wizard to me during Mother's visit. When I was a child, all the Baum books were generally available, as were the two by Snow--Magicial Mimics and Shaggy Man--and Rachel Cosgrove's Hidden Valley. Unfortunately, neither Snow nor Cosgrove could revive the series. By the way, Dorothy and the Wizard was never a favorite of mine, either.

The Thompson books were hard to find. I'd read all the titles on the inside book jacket flap of the Baum and Snow books and wonder about them. Jack Pumpkinhead had his own book! And Ojo, and the Cowardly Lion, and the Hungry Tiger. Where were they? The answer turned out to be Rich's, the major department store in downtown Atlanta. My father worked for a company that occasionally held meetings in Atlanta, and when they did, my mother and I would go to Rich's, ride the escalators all the way to the top floor, and search for one of Ruth Plumly Thompson's Oz books, a long process which involved looking into a variety of books and checking to see if favorite characters were prominent in the story. Odds bodkins, I was a big fan of her Sir Hokus, and Kabumpo the elephant, and the Iffin (who would have been a griffin except that he'd lost his "grr"), and so many more. The Wishing Horse of Oz was a favorite because it starred Pigasus, the winged pig who made everyone who sat on his back speak in rhyme. The whole portrayal of Umbrella Island in Speedy in Oz was quite beautiful.

At one point (70s, maybe) Del Rey published most of Thompson's books in paperback, and Books of Wonder later reprinted most of the Oz books in good paperback editions with the original art work by John R. Neill. These may still be available, thanks to the Internet.

For those unfamiliar with the books, perhaps I should mention that three or four of the Oz books have brief scenes which reflect the racial attitudes of the times, just as many classic films do.

Perhaps the overwhelming success of the 1939 Wizard of Oz made it impossible for Hollywood to think of Oz films except as musicals, which is unfortunate. The Patchwork Girl, for instance, would have been a great role for a comic actress.

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JackFavell
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Re: The Real Oz

Postby JackFavell » December 29th, 2010, 5:52 pm

Oh you mentioned so many favorites - The Shaggy Man was a huge favorite in our house and Ruggedo, the Nome King....I wonder if his character is the most popular, he was in so many books. And Kabumpo and The Hungry Tiger and Pigasus, and the horse-- what the heck? Who's horse was it? Peter's, I think? He was a cab horse - was his name Jim? I loved him sooo much.

Looking over the books, I realize that there were far more favorites - The Magic of Oz, in which everyone went looking for a gift for Ozma's birthday. Rinkitink of Oz, which was another "outside of Oz" book - I guess I liked traveling further and further away from Oz itself - I must have liked the descriptions of new lands. The Road to Oz had the beautiful Polychrome, I was just in love with her picture. The Royal Book of Oz....

This is making me want to read them over again. I have less vivid memories of the Plumly Thompson books, although the Hungry Tiger made a big impression on me with his love of fat babies. I have a few of the Baum books on my bookshelf, I should try reading them again, if they don't crumble into bits....

I also had another Baum book - Animal Fairy Tales - which had short stories in it - the best one was The Pea Green Poodle.

There was another story, which I remember vividly, about a young prince who was so greedy for sweets that his father, the king took him to an island made out of cake, in an ocean of soda pop or something like it. He ate and ate till he was sick to death of sweets and finally learned his lesson. I wanted to go there so badly - we were never allowed sweets at all when we were kids and it sounded so exotic. :D


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