Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Emerald-coloured glasses

Current book: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Pages read: 11 - 155

You might think that I'd be wasting my time by summarizing the plot, but if you haven't read the book, you'd be surprised by how different it is from the movie.

So, Dorothy, an orphan, lives in Kansas with her aunt and uncle, and, one day, is sucked up by a cyclone, along with her entire house and her dog Toto. She lands, much later, in Munchkinland, part of the land of Oz, where the Munchkins thank her for killing the Wicked Witch of the East, who had been holding them in bondage. Though she denies that she's done it, the Good Witch of the North kisses her on the forehead to thank and bless her, and gives her the Wicked Witch's silver shoes to protect her.

She goes to visit Oz, the Great and Terrible Wizard of Emerald City (yes, that's Emerald City, not the Emerald City) to ask him to return her to Kansas and her family. Along the way she meets the Scarecrow, who comes along because he wants to ask Oz for brains, and the Tin Woodsman, who comes to ask for a heart. (The Tin Woodsman, it turns out, is tin because he accidentally cut off all his limbs, one at a time, and had them replaced with tin. Which is creepy. Anyway.) Finally, they collect the Cowardly Lion, who wants courage so that he can be King of the Beasts.

On the way to the city, they get lost in a field of poppies, which put Dorothy and the Lion to sleep. While the Scarecrow and Woodsman can carry Dorothy out, the Lion is too heavy. Luckily, by a stroke of both his ax and good luck, the Tin Woodsman saves the Queen of the Mice from a wildcat and she agrees to have her subjects save the Lion from the poppies, after which they continue on their way.

When the get to the city, they find they are required to wear green glasses to enter the place in so that they won't be blinded by the dazzling materials from which it's constructed. They do so, and go to see Oz, but he refuses to grant them their desires unless they kill the Wicked Witch of the West for him. They go to do this, fighting off the witch's wolves, crows, and bees, which are killed in various gruesome ways. Finally, however, the companions are brought to the witch's castle by her flying monkeys. (The monkeys, it turns out, can only be controlled by any one person three times, via a magic hat, and this was the witch's last shot.) Eventually, Dorothy accidentally melts the witch, and the companions are free to go.

I have no commentary so far. It's cute. I've already read it. There's some political stuff going on, but I'm going to save it for tomorrow. I have a reprint of the original edition, also, and the illustrations are quirky and awesome two-colour plates with all sorts of great stuff in them, including Toto looking very skeptically at a Munchkin baby who wants to play with him, and the severed head of the wildcat that chased the Queen of the Mice. Severed heads in a children's book. Top notch.

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