If you've been following my blog for any length of time, you will recall that I am a fan of auctions, thrift shops, yard sales and the like. In particular, I love shopping at Goodwill whenever the opportunity presents itself. Although it is not an every time occurrence, more often than not I usually find something Wizard of Oz related. Today was, of course, no exception. While browsing the children's book section at Goodwill, I ran across a 24 page softcover book of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, retold by Mary Weber and illustrated by Ted Enik.
This was one of a series of books which were produced in 2003 by the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain and were part of their Kids Meal program. In all, there were five classic stories, including The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Black Beauty, Swiss Family Robinson, Pinocchio, and best of all, Ozma of Oz.
I hope to find a copy of Ozma of Oz someday to go with this issue.
I'm particularly pleased with the inner cover text, which explains not only the history of the book, but also covers the differences between the book and the 1939 MGM Wizard of Oz movie. I also appreciate that the editors chose to feature the correct map of Oz, which shows the juxtaposition of East and West, as originally featured by L. Frank Baum in his Oz series.
Our story starts in Kansas but quickly finds Dorothy and Toto in the Land of Oz. Here we see Munchkin City and the Good Witch of the North, along with three citizens of Munchkin City and the remains of the Wicked Witch of the East under Dorothy's house. Though she is never named in the story, it's good to see the Good Witch of the North doing her job, including planting a protective kiss on Dorothy's forehead.
Another good sign are the Silver Shoes, which are the correct color, instead of red, which had been done to accommodate the new Technicolor process being used by MGM. The story follows very closely to the original text and the capital of Oz is correctly identified as the City of Emeralds. In addition, the Yellow Brick Road now reverts back to its original description as the road of yellow brick.
After setting off on her adventure, she meets her companions, The Scarecrow...
The Tin Woodman...
... and The Cowardly Lion.
At this point, it should be noted that the illustrations have been very true to the original Baum text but, like many Oz reprints, many elements of the original story are left out due to size constraints. China Country, the Queen of the Field Mice and her subjects, as well as the Field of Poppies are missing from this story. However, one pleasant element that has been retained are the Kalidahs and the Crossing of the Great Ditch. The illustrator has portrayed the Kalidahs in a way which seems very consistent with the original story.
Finally, our gallant band of travelers reach what Dorothy calls "The Emerald City."
After meeting the Guardian of the Gates, who seems to have conveniently forgotten about the green glasses which Baum required in his original Wizard of Oz story, they are escorted to the Soldier with the Green Whiskers and finally meet the Wizard! This is the second time now that I've seen the Wizard of Oz portrayed with Vulcan ears... Very odd!
After a fearsome meeting with the Wizard, who promptly commands Dorothy and her companions to kill the Wicked Witch of the West, the friends are escorted out of Emerald City by the Guardian of the Gates.
They head out to find the evil witch and, after several battles with servants of the Wicked Witch of the West, they finally succumb to the Winged Monkeys. However, because of the kiss of the Good Witch of the North, they only deliver Dorothy & Toto to the witch's castle instead of destroying her. It's a good thing the Good Witch of the North was thinking about Dorothy's safety.
The Wicked Witch enslaves Dorothy and puts her to work. After many days of this, Dorothy finally has enough and throws a bucket of water on the old witch, causing her to melt and fulfilling Dorothy's mission from the Wizard of Oz. After freeing the Cowardly Lion, who had been held prisoner in the courtyard of the witch's castle, then picking the remains of The Scarecrow and The Tin Woodman, they head back to Emerald City.
Once inside the great green city, they meet up once more with the Soldier with the Green Whiskers. After a night's rest, they meet with the Wizard of Oz, who demands more time to consider his options. For those of you who are familiar with The Daily Ozmapolitan, the creator of that incredible site devoted to the news of Oz is Blair Frodelius and his profile picture looks just like the Soldier with the Green Whiskers.
The reluctance of the mighty Wizard angers the Cowardly Lion, who roars at the image of the Wizard and frightens Toto, who knocks over a nearby screen, revealing the frightened figure of a little old man with a bald head. Behold Oz, the Great and Terrible.
After granting the Oz folks their fondest wishes, although not quite like the original story (this may be due to the Chick-fil-A restaurant's mission statement regarding children's character development and such), the Wizard agrees to make a balloon and take Dorothy home himself. Of course, he winds up going it alone and leaving Dorothy to fend for herself.
After a conversation with the Soldier with the Green Whiskers, Dorothy heads off to find Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, who promptly informs Dorothy about the power of the Silver Shoes, but only after Glinda extorts the Golden Cap, which commands the Winged Monkeys, from Dorothy. However, Glinda is kind enough to send the Scarecrow off to rule the Emerald City, the Tin Woodman off to rule the Winkies of the West, and the Cowardly Lion to his home in the Great Forest, all courtesy of the Winged Monkeys.
Now Glinda tells Dorothy the power of the Silver Shoes will take her home and Dorothy soon finds herself back home in Kansas no worse for the adventure.
Overall, this is a fine and faithful retelling of a classic American story, even with some elements missing. As mentioned before, I would love to find a copy of Ozma of Oz produced by the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain. Perhaps, with Princess Ozma's help, a copy will show up at our local auction or thrift store?