Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Enchanted Island of Oz

From the diary: “July 2, 1981

“I began to feel really awful [night before last]. We had run out of vitamin C tablets so I couldn’t discreetly gobble them until my symptoms went away (as they usually do when I take lots of vitamin C), so I decided to go to bed early. I got in bed at about 11:00pm (nowadays, for me, that’s early!) It was a disaster! I went to sleep in a short time, but about two hours later I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep. The documentaries I watched before I went to bed danced through my mind and corrupted themselves over and over until all I could think about was this trashy story of a male/female mountain climbing team braving the steep side of Yosemite’s Half Dome to photograph snakes and water buffalo crossing a river. What were the two documentaries? Lights! Action! Africa!, a film about two wildlife photographers (husband & wife) and what they did to get their magnificent photos. The other was Free Climb, a movie about two young men who free climbed the steep side of Half Dome.

“When I could stand this bizarre mixture … no longer and decided without a shadow of a doubt that I would get no sleep until I got my mind on something else I got up. I finished reading The Enchanted Island of Oz sitting in the rocking chair in the living room. I then lay down on the couch and got to sleep. All-in-all I suppose I got about four hours of sleep.”

The Enchanted Island of Oz is by Ruth Plumly Thompson. It was published by the International Wizard of Oz Club in 1976. L. Frank Baum’s publisher issued 40 Oz books by seven authors -- 14 by Baum, 19 by Thompson, 3 by Neill, 2 by Snow, 1 by Rachel Cosgrove, and 1 by Eloise McGraw and her daughter Lauren McGraw. The Oz Club was founded in 1957, six years before the McGraws’ book was published. After Merry-go-round in Oz Reilly & Lee decided not to do another Oz book. The Oz Club issued two new Ruth Plumly Thompson titles, Yankee in Oz (1972) and The Enchanted Island of Oz. Eventually other publishers got into the act, especially as Baum’s books passed out of copyright.

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