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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (commonly known as The Wizard of Oz), is the 1st book in the famous Oz series by author L. Frank Baum. It was originally illustrated by W. W. Denslow and published at the turn of the 20th century in the year 1900. It is also widely considered to be one of the very first official American fairytales or fables.

Summary[]

Dorothy is a little orphaned girl raised by her hardworking Uncle Henry and his wife, Aunt Em, in the bleak, gray and colorless landscape of a small, poor and sunbaked Kansas farm. She has a little black dog named Toto, who is her sole source of happiness on the dull prairie. One day, a monstrous cyclone hits and Dorothy and Toto are swept away inside their farmhouse which is carried through the air and blown far, far away. The cyclone deposits the house in a gorgeous meadow in Munchkin Country, the eastern quadrant of the undiscovered realm named the Land of Oz. The house also lands on and kills the Wicked Witch of the East, the evil ruler of the native Munchkins, for which they are extremely grateful for finally being freed from her wickedness.

The Good Witch of the North who rules over Gillikin Country in Oz, comes with three local Munchkin men to greet Dorothy and give her the charmed Silver Shoes (believed to have a mysterious magical charm) that the Wicked Witch of the East had been wearing upon her demise. Dorothy, eager to get back to Aunt Em and Uncle Henry, asks how she can return to Kansas. The Good Witch of the North explains that the Land of Oz is surrounded by a great Deadly Desert, so in order to find a way home she will have to go to the Emerald City to seek out Oz's most powerful and dominant figure known as the great Wizard to ask him to help her. She is then directed to follow the Yellow Brick Road which will eventually lead her there. Before she leaves, the Good Witch of the North kisses Dorothy on the forehead for protection and luck.

On her way down the yellow brick road, Dorothy attends a lavish banquet thrown by Boq, the wealthiest Munchkin. It is in honor of her for liberating all of Munchkin Country of the Wicked Witch of the East. After a hardy supper, she spends the night at his residence. The next day on the yellow brick road, she passes by a cornfield and meets and frees a brainless Scarecrow from the pole on which he is hanging and invites him to join her on her journey. Sometime later, she befriends and applies oil to the rusted joints of a tragically heartless Tin Woodman in a thick forest. And after learning a seemingly Cowardly Lion has no courage at all, she also encourages him to join her on her travels.

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Dorothy meets the Cowardly Lion.

The Scarecrow wants a brain, the Tin Woodman wants a heart, and the Cowardly Lion wants courage. They all truly believe that the Wizard is capable of granting them their wishes. The group face many adventures on their way, overcoming obstacles such as cliff gaps in the yellow brick road, flesh eating Kalidahs (beasts with bodies of bears and heads of tigers), crossing a raging river, meeting a female mother Stork, falling victim to a field of deadly Poppies, the Tin Woodman killing a vicious Wildcat and being helped by the Queen of the Field Mice and her Field Mice.

When they arrive at the Emerald City at last, they are told by the Guardian of the Gates to wear special spectacles to protect their eyes from being blinded by all the glittering green and precious emeralds that decorate the entire city. The Soldier with the Green Whiskers escorts them through the busy streets until they reach the grandest building in the city, the Royal Palace of Oz, where the Wizard resides. They are also the first in history to ever be permitted to meet with him. They are greeted by a "pretty green girl" named Jellia Jamb who escorts them to the Wizard's chambers. He seems to be a talented shapeshifter as he appears to each of them one by one as someone or something entirely different. Dorothy is the first to meet with him and sees him as a giant levitating head above a jeweled throne.

The Scarecrow sees the Wizard as a lovely lady with wings, the Tin Woodman sees him as a terrible beast, and the Cowardly Lion sees him as a floating ball of fire. He agrees to help them, but only if they prove themselves worthy of his assistance and defeat the Wicked Witch of the West, who rules over Winkie Country. Before leaving the Emerald City to carry out their task, the Guardian of the Gates warns them that no one has ever managed to successfully conquer the very cunning and cruel Wicked Witch.

As they travel across Winkie Country searching for her, the Wicked Witch can see them coming toward her castle with her one eye which is as powerful as a telescope. She sends all of her forces to kill them on the spot. First, she sends her 40 great wolves, but the Tin Woodman manages to kill them with his axe. Second, she sends her 40 crows, but the Scarecrow manages to kill them by twisting their necks. Third, she summons her swarm of killer black bees to sting them to death, but the Tin Woodman serves as a buffer sitting atop the Scarecrow's straw that hides the others. Fourth, she has the Winkies, her slaves, attack them with spears but the Cowardly Lion's stance repeals them and sends them running back to the castle in fear. Finally, she uses the power of the magic Golden Cap to command the Winged Monkeys to capture Dorothy, Toto, and the Cowardly Lion, and immobilize the others by completely unstuffing the Scarecrow and terribly denting the Tin Woodman by dropping him on sharp, jagged rocks. This plan is successful, and Dorothy, Toto, and the Cowardly Lion are carried into the sky to the castle.

The Wicked Witch forces Dorothy to become her slave and do all the housework for her, all the while scheming to steal her silver shoes. The Cowardly Lion is locked in a cage and is not given any food until he will submit to the Witch by being a pack animal; luckily Dorothy sneaks food out to him each night, so he does not starve to death.

The Wicked Witch finally tricks Dorothy out of one of her silver shoes and she, in anger, throws a bucket of water at the Witch. She is shocked to see that the Witch literally melts away before her very eyes as she was apparently allergic to water. The Winkies rejoice at being freed of her tyranny and they help restuff the Scarecrow and mend the damaged Tin Woodman. They love the latter, and ask him to become their ruler, which he agrees to do after helping Dorothy return to Kansas.

Dorothy, after finding and learning how to use the Golden Cap, summons the Winged Monkeys to carry her and her companions back to the Emerald City. The leader tells how he and his band were bound by an enchantment to the cap by a princess and sorceress named Gayelette who married a man named Quelala.

When Dorothy and her friends meet the Wizard again, he strangely tries to stall, but Toto accidentally tips over a green screen in a corner of the throne room which apparently, he was hiding behind the entire time. He is found to be nothing more than a humbug, using false magic tricks and illusions to pose as a real Wizard. Yet he is just an ordinary old man who, by a circus hot air balloon, came to Oz from Omaha long ago and the people were so impressed by his ability to do magic tricks they declared him a great wizard.

The Wizard tries his best to make it up to the disappointed group and provides the Scarecrow with a head full of bran, pins, and needles ("a lot of bran-new brains"), the Tin Woodman with a silk heart stuffed with sawdust, and the Cowardly Lion a potion of "courage". Their faith in his power gives these otherwise useless items a focus for their desires. In order to help Dorothy and Toto get home, he realizes that he will have to take them there himself, as he has been growing tired of being cooped up in the Palace all the time and wanting to return to Omaha and be a circus magician again. He and Dorothy make a new hot air balloon from green silk.

At the sendoff the Wizard reveals himself to the Emerald City's citizens one last time and appoints the Scarecrow, by virtue of his brains, to rule in his stead. Dorothy goes after Toto as he chases a kitten in the crowd. In a hurry, she attempts to get to the balloon in time, but the ropes break, and the balloon floats away, leaving her behind.

A distraught Dorothy asks the Scarecrow what she should do. She then calls upon the Golden Cap and ask the Winged Monkeys to carry her and Toto home. To her dismay the leader explains that due to the laws of the magic realm, they can't cross the desert surrounding Oz, subsequently wasting her second command. The Soldier with the Green Whiskers advises that Glinda, the beautiful, wise, and compassionate Good Witch of the South, may know of a way to cross the desert, thus being able to help her and Toto get home. They group journeys south to Glinda's palace in Quadling Country. Together they escape the Fighting Trees and tread carefully through the Dainty China Country where they meet the China Princess and Mr. Joker. The Cowardly Lion also kills a giant spider who is terrorizing and eating up all the animals in a forest and agrees to return there to rule over them after he sees Dorothy return to Kansas. The group then dodges the armless and very disagreeable Hammer-Heads on their rocky hill. To get over it, Dorothy uses her last and final command to have the Winged Monkeys carry them over it.

At Glinda's palace, they are greeted warmly by her all-female army. It is revealed by her that Dorothy had the power to get home all along, for the silver shoes' charm can take her anywhere she wishes to go. All she has to do is knock the heels together three times and make a wish. She tearfully embraces her three companions, all of whom will be returned, through Glinda's use of the Golden Cap, to their respective kingdoms: the Scarecrow will go back to the Emerald City to rule its citizens, the Tin Woodman to Winkie Country to rule the Winkies, and the Cowardly Lion to the forest to be the King of Beasts. Then Glinda will give the cap to the leader of the Winged Monkeys, so they will be freed and never be under its spell again. Having bid her companions goodbye one final time, Dorothy does as she was instructed and wishes to return home. She is instantly teleported away in three steps; each is made within the wink of an eye. When she opens her eyes, she and Toto are finally back in Kansas to a joyful family reunion. The silver shoes, however, fell off her feet on the flight back and are lost in the desert forever.

Aunt Em hugs and covers Dorothy with kisses. She asks her where in the world had she come from. She tells her about Oz and how glad she and Toto are to be home again.

Characters[]

Chapter List[]

  1. The Cyclone
  2. The Council with the Munchkins
  3. How Dorothy Saved the Scarecrow
  4. The Road Through the Forest
  5. The Rescue of the Tin Woodman
  6. The Cowardly Lion
  7. The Journey to the Great Oz
  8. The Deadly Poppy Field
  9. The Queen of the Field Mice
  10. The Guardian of the Gate
  11. The Wonderful City of Oz
  12. The Search for the Wicked Witch
  13. The Rescue
  14. The Winged Monkeys
  15. The Discovery of Oz, the Terrible
  16. The Magic Art of the Great Humbug
  17. How the Balloon Was Launched
  18. Away to the South
  19. Attacked by the Fighting Trees
  20. The Dainty China Country
  21. The Lion Becomes the King of Beasts
  22. The Country of the Quadlings
  23. Glinda the Good Witch Grants Dorothy's Wish
  24. Home Again

Land of Oz[]

In this inaugural book, Baum first delineates and begins to develop his concepts of the Land of Oz, with its central city and its four countries in the four cardinal directions, each with its characteristic color — Munchkin Country in the east (blue), Winkie Country in the west (yellow), Quadling Country in the south (red), and Gillikin Country in the north (purple). The characters in the first book visit all of the countries except the northern one.

A crucial point about Oz is that it is not "civilized", which allows witchcraft and magic and other odd traits to flourish. (Compare another pre-civilized society, the Island of Yew, which later succumbs to civilizing influences.)

Baum gives Oz an extensive development in the thirteen subsequent Oz books he wrote, his successors as Royal Historians carried that elaboration still further.

Publication History[]

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Rare book advertisement cover poster from circa 1899-1900

Baum wrote the manuscript for the book in soft pencil on pads; he was left-handed, and his writing was clear and easily legible. He saved and framed the last pencil used in the process and displayed it on a wall in Ozcot, his Hollywood home. Its inscription read, "With this pencil I wrote the MS. of The Emerald City. Finished Oct. 9th, 1899." (The title of the book changed more than once during its genesis. When Baum and Denslow signed their 1899 contract to create the book, it was termed "The City of Oz or some other appropriate name." Publisher George M. Hill suggested From Kansas to Fairyland at one point; and the book was copyrighted as The Land of Oz.)

Denslow supplied 24 full-color plate illustrations for the book (including the title page), along with more than a hundred drawings, a total that included chapter headings and monochrome pictures that ran under the text. The colors in his plates match the journey of Dorothy and her friends through Oz — pictures of scenes set in the Emerald City are tinted green, and those in Munchkin Country are dominated by shades of blue.

Baum and Denslow split evenly a 12% royalty of the book; each earned 9 cents per copy on the $1.50 cover price. On 15 January 1900 each man received a $500 advance on royalties from the publisher. The book was an instant success upon publication, selling more than 37,000 copies in fifteen months. Each of the collaborators received royalty payments of $1,423 on 1 November 1900, and another $1,966 at the end of the following year.

The book passed out of copyright protection and into the public domain in 1956. By that time, it had sold over 4,195,000 copies.

Reception[]

Book Reviews of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz from 1900...

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz original 1900 hardcover format design

"This story of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz", is so ingeniously woven out of commonplace material. It is of course an extravaganza experience for any American child but will surely be found to appeal strongly to adult readers as well as to the younger children, to whom it will be read by mothers or those having charge of the entertaining of children. There seems to be an inborn love of stories in child minds, and one of the most familiar and pleading requests of children is to be told another story, a story like this one."
New York Times (1900)
" The drawing as well as the introduced color work vies with the texts drawn, and the result has been a book that rises far above the average children's book of today, high as is the present standard. "
New York Times (1900)
"The book has a bright and joyous atmosphere and does not dwell upon killing and deeds of violence. Enough stirring adventure enters into it, however, to flavor it with zest, and it will indeed be strange if there be a normal child who will not enjoy the story. "
New York Times (1900)

Adaptations[]

Gallery[]

Covers[]

References[]

  • Aljean Harmetz. The Making of the Wizard of Oz: Movie Magic and Studio Power in the Prime of MGM — and the Miracle of Production #1060. New York, Delta edition, 1989.
  • Katharine M. Rogers. L. Frank Baum, Creator of Oz: A Biography. New York, St. Martin's Press, 2002.

See also[]

External links[]

L. Frank Baum's Oz books
1. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz 2. The Marvelous Land of Oz 3. Ozma of Oz 4. Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz 5. The Road to Oz 6. The Emerald City of Oz 7. The Patchwork Girl of Oz 8. Tik-Tok of Oz 9. The Scarecrow of Oz 10. Rinkitink in Oz 11. The Lost Princess of Oz 12. The Tin Woodman of Oz 13. The Magic of Oz 14. Glinda of Oz
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