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?