Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Little Wizard Stories of Oz

It's no use; no use at all. The children won't let me stop telling tales of the Land of Oz. I know lots of other stories, and I hope to tell them, some time or another; but just now my loving tyrants won't allow me. They cry: "Oz—Oz! more about Oz, Mr. Baum!" and what can I do but obey their commands?

While Baum wrote that in 1908 opening the introduction of Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, it really struck true by the end of 1912. The two "Trot" books, The Sea Fairies and Sky Island, proved not be catching on as much as Baum had hoped. There was only one option: return to Oz.

Most Oz fans know that the next Oz novel was The Patchwork Girl of Oz in 1913, but until very recently, it was not widely known that Baum also wrote six short stories that were printed as booklets, entitled The Little Wizard Stories. The next year, they were collected in a book entitled Little Wizard Stories of Oz.

  • The Cowardly Lion And The Hungry Tiger is the first story in the book. While Ozma is away from the throne room, her two massive feline bodyguards talk over their fondest desires: the Hungry Tiger yet wants a fat baby, and the Cowardly Lion determines to prove his strength and ferocity by ripping someone to pieces. They head out and get a chance, but Baum proves whimsically that these beasts have been tamed.
  • Next, Little Dorothy and Toto go wandering and meet the dangerous Crinklink, who enslaves Dorothy and threatens to whip her soundly should she break any of the dishes she washes. Toto, however, tries to save the day before the two wanderers discover Crinklink's true nature.
  • In Tiktok and the Nome King, Tik-Tok (that's how I spell it!) goes to the Nome King for a tune-up, but the Metal Monarch proves less than cheerful, and soon regrets his actions.
  • Ozma and the Little Wizard head out to visit some of the people of Oz, and try to use magic to relieve some of Ozma's people from the annoyances of Imp Olite, Imp Ertinent, and Imp Udent.
  • Ozma recruits Jack Pumpkinhead and the Sawhorse to rescue some children lost in the woods, but discovers they have been imprisoned by mischievous squirrels.
  • Finally, when The Scarecrow and Tin Woodman go boating, the Tin Woodman happens to rock the boat and fall out. Can a man of straw, even with wonderful brains, save his best friend?

Anyone expecting a deep story with a clever plot should not look to this book, but if you want six Oz stories that can be read quickly and in any order, this is your book! And, after The Emerald City of Oz, they could occur at any time. (Except Tiktok and the Nome King would occur before Tik-Tok of Oz.)

So, this is Baum's Oz at its lightest, and it works well. Out of all these stories, only two of these small adventures do not include the Wizard: the Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger and TikTok and the Nome King. Also of note is how John R Neill now illustrates Toto with more, and black, hair as described before. But now the in-universe question remains, how did Baum get these stories?

1 comment:

Nathan said...

Well, just because the note about the wireless telegraph is in Patchwork Girl doesn't necessarily mean that PG was the first story relayed to Baum over the telegraph, does it?