As a few of my friends know, I select two “off-kilter projects” for myself each year. They aren’t really so odd, but they take my mind in different directions from what I am accustomed. In 2013, my OKPs are to get a bicycle and learn to ride again–after many years–and to read all the authorized Wizard of Oz books. One of my OKPs for 2014 is to learn to knit, which I understand will also help me tap into other parts of my brain. I usually read the Oz books on the bus, commuting to or from work, and occasionally at lunch time, so I’m making really slow progress.
This week, I am finishing The Marvelous Land of Oz: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman, commonly shortened to The Land of Oz, published on July 5, 1904. This is the second of L. Frank Baum’s books set in the Land of Oz, and the sequel to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. This and the next thirty-four Oz books of the famous forty books were illustrated by John R. Neill. The book was made into an episode of The Shirley Temple Show in 1960, and into a Canadian animated feature film in 1987 (I hope to find that movie this fall). It was also adapted in comic book form by Marvel Comics, released in November 2009. Plot elements from The Marvelous Land of Oz are also included in the 1985 Disney feature film Return to Oz.
I am frequently delighted by the whimsy and twist of this book. I chuckle and LOL. I am astounded by the somewhat feminist tone of this beautiful children’s book from 1904. Here are a few quotes that I have especially enjoyed:
“Everything in life is unusual until you get accustomed to it -The Scarecrow
“For although I feel that I know a tremendous lot, I am not yet aware how much there is in the world to find out about. It will take me a little time to discover whether I am very wise or very foolish” – Jack Pumpkinhead
“Well, I cannot claim any great experience in life,’ the Saw-Horse answered for himself; ‘but I seem to learn very quickly, and often it occurs to me that I know more than any of those around me.’ ‘Perhaps you do,’ said the Emperor; ‘for experience does not always mean wisdom.
“And I’ declared the Sawhorse, filling an awkward pause, ‘am only remarkable because I can’t help it.”
“Do not, I beg of you, dampen today’s sun with the showers of tomorrow.” – Emperor Nick Chopper (The Tin Woodsman)
“I think,’ said the little Queen, smiling, ‘that your friend must be the richest man in all the world.’ ‘I am,’ returned the Scarecrow; ‘but not on account of my money. For I consider brains to be far superior to money, in every way. You may have noticed that if one has money without brains, he cannot use it to advantage; but if one has brains without money, they will enable him to live comfortably to the end of days.’ ‘At the same time,’ declared the Tin Woodman, ‘you must acknowledge that a good heart is a thing that brains cannot create, and that money cannot buy. Perhaps, after all it is I who am the richest man in all the world.’ ‘You are both rich, my friends,’ said Ozma gently; ‘and your riches are the only riches worth having – the riches of content!’
I shall miss this book. But I’m keeping it on my Kindle.
I particularly enjoyed some of the humorous dialogue–just fun and endearing:
At this moment the Soldier with the Green Whiskers returned, and the Scarecrow asked: “By the way, who has conquered me?” “A regiment of girls, gathered from the four corners of the Land of Oz,” replied the Soldier, still pale with fear.
“But where was my Standing Army at the time?” inquired his Majesty, looking at the Soldier, gravely. “Your Standing Army was running,” answered the fellow, honestly; “for no man could face the terrible weapons of the invaders.”
“Well,” said the Scarecrow, after a moment’s thought, “I don’t mind much the loss of my throne, for it’s a tiresome job to rule over the Emerald City. And this crown is so heavy that it makes my head ache. But I hope the Conquerors have no intention of injuring me, just because I happen to be the King.”
Finally, the Woggle-Bug keeps us laughing:
“It means, my dear friend,” explained the Woggle-Bug, “that our language contains many words having a double meaning; and that to pronounce a joke that allows both meanings of a certain word, proves the joker a person of culture and refinement, who has, moreover, a thorough command of the language.”
“I don’t believe that,” said Tip, plainly; “anybody can make a pun.”
“Not so,” rejoined the Woggle-Bug, stiffly. “It requires education of a high order. Are you educated, young sir?” “Not especially,” admitted Tip.
“Then you cannot judge the matter. I myself am Thoroughly Educated, and I say that puns display genius. For instance, were I to ride upon this Saw-Horse, he would not only be an animal he would become an equipage. For he would then be a horse-and-buggy.”