So important, don’t you think? This is Susan’s daughter. I sent this book to Susan after her name was drawn in a contest.
Not in the book version, anyway. There are several differences between L. Frank Baum’s book and the movie version with Judy Garland. Most people will point out that the slippers were silver not ruby. That’s interesting, but I think a more major difference involves the dream.
The author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz book had passed away before the movie came out, but Frank J. Baum obviously had an opinion about it. In the 1950s Baum’s son wrote an essay about why the Oz books continued to sell. He cited reasons juvenile fantasy readers found the story appealing such as simple language, the fact that it appeals to adults who read it to their children. He says, “Reality and unreality are so entwined that it is often difficult to know where one leaves off and the other begins….” And then Baum says something that might surprise people who have only seen the movie and not read the book.
The story leaves the reader with a feeling that it all could have happened just as it was told. And the end is not spoiled by the author’s explanation that these marvelous adventures were a dream or a hallucination. Never attempt to explain fantasy.
In 1938 the screenwriters working on the film disagreed. They thought audiences were too sophisticated for that kind of thing. In The Making of the Wizard of Oz by Aljean Harmetz one of the screenwriters is quoted as saying, “…you cannot put fantastical people in strange places in front of an audience unless they have seen them as human beings first.” And he meant that literally, believing that you couldn’t just introduce a scarecrow, tin man, and cowardly lion and have audiences identify with them. But Baum did, didn’t he? And scores of other film makers have since then if you think about the genre of fantasy…Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Avatar…just to mention a few.
Even so, the movie has survived and continues to entertain audiences, so maybe you can do both or one or the other. I believe it’s the quest, the search for home and a place to belong that people identify with. What do you think?
At the turn of the twentieth century society was beginning to change how it perceived children. Moving increasingly away from viewing children as creatures who naturally possessed evil impulses that needed to be removed, society began to see juveniles as developing beings progressing through predictable milestones.
The origin of the genre of children’s literature is usually traced to the eighteenth century and John Newberry, an English publisher who helped make books for children available. You may have heard of the Newberry Medal, which recognizes excellence in children’s literature. Newberry published what is considered the first children’s book in 1744, Little Pretty Pocket-Book (which incidentally contains a very early mention of the game of base-ball, and in England, no less!) The book was meant to delight and entertain children, but its focus was educational rather than to engage the imagination.
The real change in children’s literature came at the end of the nineteenth century with Grimm’s Fairy Tales and the works of Lewis Carroll and a few others. Now the imagination and pure enjoyment were primary. This is the world L. Frank Baum entered. He is considered to be the creator of the first American fairytale. Baum seemed to be constantly thinking of how to entertain children.
The following bio is excerpted and condensed from The Literature Network: http://www.online-literature.com/baum/
Lyman Frank Baum was born 15 May, 1856 in Chittenango, New York. His father was Benjamin Ward Baum, who would make a fortune in Pennsylvania Oil, and his mother Cynthia Stanton. Frank, as he preferred to be called, was born with a weak heart. He was home schooled and having few playmates, he also spent hours reading in his father’s library. He developed an aversion to the usual scary creatures and violence of folklore and popular children’s fairytales of the time and would end up creating his own adaptations of them in order to give other children, later including his own, delight in stories rather than grim and frightful moral lessons.
In 1869 Baum entered the Peekskill Military School but the atmosphere of harsh discipline and strenuous activity was too much for him physically and he was removed. After his father bought him a printing press, with his younger brother Harry, he started his own newspaper, the Rose Lawn Home Journal, named after the family estate. Baum wrote about the raising and breeding of chickens in The Book of Hamburgs. (1896)
At the age of twenty-five, Baum started studying theatre in New York City. From 1881 to 1882 he managed an opera house in Richburg, New York. He wrote the play The Maid of Arran in 1882 which he acted in. On 9 November, 1882 he married Maud Gage with whom he would have four children [all boys.] After a few different business ventures, Baum encouraged by his mother-in-law, started to write down the nursery rhymes he had improvised and told to his sons over the years. Mother Goose in Prose was published in 1897. It met rave reviews and in 1899 he collaborated with Chicago cartoonist and poster designer W. W. Denslow on yet another success, Father Goose: His Book. It would be the best-selling book for that year with an estimated 175,000 copies sold.
In 1900 the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published to instant success, another collaboration between Baum and Denslow.
Baum was always telling stories, to his own sons and to neighborhood children. He said,
“Imagination has given us the steam engine, the telephone, the talking-machine, and the automobile, for these things had to be dreamed of before they became realities. So I believe that day dreams with your eyes wide open are likely to lead to the betterment of the world. The imaginative child will become the imaginative man or woman most apt to create, to invent, and therefore to foster civilization. A prominent educator tells me that fairy tales are of untold value in developing imagination in the young. I believe it.”
So Baum’s book was the perfect inspiration for my character Annie Gallagher who was raised on stories and the power of imagination.