Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Royal Book of Oz

From the diary: “March 16, 1981

“I started reading The Royal Book of Oz today.”

The Royal Book of Oz is the first non-Baum Oz book. The publishers recruited Ruth Plumly Thompson, a newspaper writer, to produce new Oz books. She turned out an Oz book a year for nineteen years. In Royal Book the Scarecrow returns to his “family tree,” the stick in the cornfield from which Dorothy helped him down in The Wizard of Oz. The Scarecrow wants to know how he came to be alive. Other non-meat creatures have origin stories – the Tin Woodman was a meat person but a wicked witch enchanted his ax causing it to cut off parts of his body, the missing parts were replaced with tin until the woodman was entirely tin; the Patchwork Girl was a dummy sewn out of a patchwork quilt until the Powder of Life was sprinkled on her. But the Scarecrow was alive when Dorothy met him and new Oz historian Thompson decided to provide an explanation. It seems the Scarecrow is the reincarnation of Chang Wang Woe of the Silver Islands which lie deep beneath the land of Oz, Chang’s spirit having fled up the pole to animate the Scarecrow.

It still strikes me as an odd idea. The Scarecrow is a pseudo-Chinese emperor?

The Royal Book of Oz is the last book mentioned in the diary, 1/1/81 thru 4/14/81.


David Lee Ingersoll said...

In Oz Squad it is suggested that Dorothy unconsciously brought the Scarecrow to life. She was wearing the silver slippers (powerful magic objects) at the time, lost and in need of a companion. At least a companion with a bit more brains than Toto was willing to exhibit at the time.

I rather liked that idea - The Scarecrow as Dorothy's magical familiar.

I've never read the Royal Book. Got it on my wish list somewhere though.

Glenn Ingersoll said...

The text of Royal Book is on the web. But no pictures, sadly.

David Lee Ingersoll said...

For some reason it takes me forever to read the texts I download from the web. I only read The Night Land after Sarah gave me a copy for Christmas. (Well, began reading anyway. I've still got a way to go.) I printed out an e-text version years ago.

I did read Peter Pan as a printed e-text though. And many of my Oz books are Walmart paperbacks that have no illustrations. I wasn't paying attention when I picked them up at HPB. I mean, who prints Oz books without illustrations?

Glenn Ingersoll said...

I don't think I could stand to read an Oz book without illustrations. Jeez! You so know what you're missing.

My Oz friend Lary says he's filled all the holes in his collection and now he finds himself buying all the facsimile reprints $10 apiece used. When he has them all, he says, he may just sell off the collectibles.

This sounds like a good idea.