Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - by Frank L. Baum

Free US/UK Kindle Classic
Election Day has ended in the States and after working much of the last two weeks as an election clerk (a non-partisan job of 13 hour days assisting at the polls); I thought I should write about a political book.  But I am dead tired and just could not think of any.  Then I decided why not reprise The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which is a book for children with a political subtext that can be completely ignored.  Perfect!  (US Edition)  (UK Edition) 

It is the first in a series of books about Oz by Baum.  Later books were more overtly political.  Some of this book should sound familiar:

"Are you really going to look upon the face of Oz the Terrible?"

"Of course," answered the girl, "if he will see me."

"Oh, he will see you," said the soldier who had taken her message to the Wizard, "although he does not like to have people ask to see him. Indeed, at first he was angry and said I should send you back where you came from. Then he asked me what you looked like, and when I mentioned your silver shoes he was very much interested. At last I told him about the mark upon your forehead, and he decided he would admit you to his presence."

Just then a bell rang, and the green girl said to Dorothy, "That is the signal. You must go into the Throne Room alone."

She opened a little door and Dorothy walked boldly through and found herself in a wonderful place. It was a big, round room with a high arched roof, and the walls and ceiling and floor were covered with large emeralds set closely together. In the center of the roof was a great light, as bright as the sun, which made the emeralds sparkle in a wonderful manner.

But what interested Dorothy most was the big throne of green marble that stood in the middle of the room. It was shaped like a chair and sparkled with gems, as did everything else. In the center of the chair was an enormous Head, without a body to support it or any arms or legs whatever. There was no hair upon this head, but it had eyes and a nose and mouth, and was much bigger than the head of the biggest giant.

As Dorothy gazed upon this in wonder and fear, the eyes turned slowly and looked at her sharply and steadily. Then the mouth moved, and Dorothy heard a voice say:

"I am Oz, the Great and Terrible. Who are you, and why do you seek me?"

It was not such an awful voice as she had expected to come from the big Head; so she took courage and answered:

"I am Dorothy, the Small and Meek. I have come to you for help."

Silver slippers?  Well maybe it is not all that familiar!

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is not all sweetness and light and terrifying flying monkeys.  

This passage is kind of dark and makes me wonder why going home to Kansas was so attractive . . . 

When Aunt Em came there to live [Kansas of course] she was a young, pretty wife. The sun and wind had changed her, too. They had taken the sparkle from her eyes and left them a sober gray; they had taken the red from her cheeks and lips, and they were gray also. She was thin and gaunt, and never smiled now. When Dorothy, who was an orphan, first came to her, Aunt Em had been so startled by the child's laughter that she would scream and press her hand upon her heart whenever Dorothy's merry voice reached her ears; and she still looked at the little girl with wonder that she could find anything to laugh at.  

So download it for yourself, or to share with someone you love.  Just because it is e-ink, that doesn't mean you can't read it aloud to someone who will get the screen all sticky.

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