Tag Archives: Frank L. Baum

What Are You Reading, Mickey?

Well, I have a thing for collecting old books. This one is 100 years old. It is a modern edition, though, re-published in 2003.

Here’s my Goodreads review;

This book is an ancient treasure in many ways, being now more than 100 years old. The illustrations by John O’Neill, too, have a very antique charm. The book is a little short on plot. Dorothy wanders off from the Kansas farm, meets the hobo Shaggy Man, and Button Bright, one of the stupidest little boys in literature. They meet old friends along the way; Jack Pumpkinhead, H.M. Wogglebug T.E., the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, the Hungry Tiger, Tik Tok the mechanical man, Billina the Talking Yellow Chicken, and the living Sawhorse. And they all end the story at Princess Ozma”s birthday party where Santa Claus is the favorite guest. This is a potboiler novel for Baum, obviously written only because the readers all begged for it, and it has a lot in it to be enjoyed by true fans of Oz, but not much in the way of suspense or excitement. It can easily be summed up in the words of Button Bright, “I don’t know,” which he says in answer to every question.

I find the illustrations more compelling than the story itself, but I have to admit that the story itself is incredibly visual.

I love this book, even though I don’t respect it much as a storyteller myself. But it is the fourth Oz book I have read since childhood. And it isn’t because of the story. Frank L. Baum is a genius at creating loveable and memorable characters. And these illustrations are wonderful. The Shaggy Man with the head of a donkey? Absolutely fabulous! You can’t beat that. (Well, you can. But whether he’s a donkey or a man, it’s still a crime. )

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Gosh I Love Maps!

There are so many places in this world (or maybe out of this world) to visit and become a part of, that it really helps to have a map to navigate the places (especially imaginary places) with the mind’s blurry eye.

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If you are ever lifted up into the stratosphere in your house by a twister, bonked on the head so you see wicked witches flying on brooms, and set down in a place filled with magical dwarfs called Munchkins… the above map might prove very useful.  I found it’s like as a kid to be thoroughly helpful as I read not only Frank L. Baum’s first book, but also his second and fifth books.  It really helps to know where you are in Oz.

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Edmond Hamilton’s hero, Captain Future, needed a map of worlds like Futuria as well as Mars, the Moon, and Venus in his 1940’s Science Fiction Adventures from Captain Future Magazine.

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This is Fritz Lieber’s city of Lankhmar where giant Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser commit numerous acts of stealing, wenching, fighting and drinking.  A map like this would help them in their many dealings with wizards, magicians, and strange beings.

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This map could easily prove to be the salvation of Robert E. Howard’s hero, Conan the Barbarian.  The well-traveled Conan was a peerless fighter, but not much of a thinker.  So barring the odd smart girlfriend and witty, fast-talking sidekick, Conan couldn’t do without it.20151209_110653

This whole map thing was inspired by this old book that I have thumbed through so much the pages are falling out.  It contains maps of Middle Earth, Pern, Pellucidar, Atlantis, the planet Arrakis from Dune, and Narnia.

It is now the inspiration for my holiday art project.  I will create my own imaginary map from my hometown novels, a map of Norwall, Iowa, that will include the homes of many characters, fairy battlefields and secret lairs, the Gingerbread House where the witch lives, and more.  As you can see… I have only just begun.

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