Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How Many Hairs on a Woozy's Tail?

by KAK  

 L. Frank Baum holds the title for "Earliest Influence" in my literary life. I learned to read with the Oz series. Tik-Tok, Pumpkinhead, the magic carpet, the Woozy, ...what?

What do mean you haven't heard of... 

Oh, for Pete's sake. Baum wrote some fourteen books about the world of Oz. That doesn't include the comic strips, the novellas, or the shorts about the Wonderful World of Oz. Not every Oz book involved ruby slippers, munchkins, or flying monkeys. Heck, the second book in the series doesn't involve Dorothy! It's about a boy named Tip.

My love of unusual names can be directly traced back to Baum. Who names their characters "Rinkitink," "Ozma," or "Woggle-Bug"? He created cities named Yip and Pinagree, and, of course, Oz. Beyond the Tin-man (who has his own book, btw) and the Scarecrow (also the star of his own book), we have such characters as the Wheelers, Kiki Aru, and the Glass Cat.

Baum's books left me with more than an affinity for names descriptive, strange, or pun-ny. His characters taught me appearances have a lot to do with initial perception but not personal (or plot) development. Baum gave me an appreciation for fantasy, for the endless possibilities in worlds other than my own. While I love historical fiction and paranormal, my genre-of-the-heart is fantasy because of Baum.

Flatheads versus the Skeezers

In Glinda of Oz, the final book of Baum's Oz series, Dorothy returns to Oz to help Glinda (the "Good Witch" for you "Wicked" fans) broker peace between two warring Ozian races -- the Flatheads and the Skeezers. Nearly a hundred years after Glinda was posthumously published, I can assure you, the Flatheads and Skeezers have made it earth and infiltrated humanity. Campaign season is their time to shine. I'm pretty sure the Nome King is running for President.

Have any of you, dear readers, read one of Baum's Oz books? Can one of you tell me how many hairs are on a Woozy's tail?

10 comments:

  1. Sorry, I only read The Wizard of Oz - but I did read the original version, so that's something. They always sounded like interesting books, and I meant to read them, but then I'd get distracted.

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    1. At least you read the first book! There was something about the drawings that wouldn't let me leave the books alone for too long.

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  2. I read 'em all, yes. Some of the stories got very strangely tangential and I remember being squicked out by the glass cat. I'm sure there's all sort of Baum in my head, swirling around.

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    1. It might have been "Bungle's" visible pink brains. Dorothy could see the "marbles" move when the cat thought, which is a wee bit icky.

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  3. I never read any of the Oz books, and I have no idea why. Think I'm going to have to remedy that. :)

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    1. You have the perfect excuse! Be warned, though, hardback copies are worth hundreds of dollars.

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  4. I loved the OZ books--all of them. TikTok, The Hungry Tiger, and Belina, friends of my childhood. They're why I never particularly cared for WICKED (the book or the musical, although the music is awesome as is the staging and some of the lines) because you just can't change history like that.

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    1. Yes! Another Baum-ite! I agree about the series of WICKED books. Sure, I appreciate re-creating a backstory for popular secondary characters and renewing interest in the world of OZ, but...yeah.

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