19
Dec-2018

It’s a Wonderful Year for Holiday Reading

Looking for last-minute gift ideas?  Anyone still asking what you’d like this holiday season?  Oz makes gift shopping easy for my family; but I can seldom wait when it’s a book I’ve looked forward to. My reading pile is already tall, and chock full of gift ideas for Oz fans.  While many of these titles will be reviewed and explored in The Baum Bugle, I thought I’d also share recent titles that have found their way to me here on the President’s Corner blog. 

A Star is Born; Judy Garland and the Film that Got Away is written by her daughter Lorna Luft with Jeffrey Vance. (2018, Running Press)  I have great expectations; Lorna wrote it!  A must have for Judy fans; I don’t expect a lot of Oz in these pages, but will read every word anyway.

The Road to Oz, the Evolution, Creation, and Legacy of a Motion Picture Masterpiece is where there most certainly will be lots of Oz. Jay Scarfone and Bill Stillman have added this title to their growing list of significant Oz research books. Google around and you’ll find online interviews and numerous media stories. The authors say they’ve filled it with many never-before-published details, including some that contradict long-held beliefs about the beloved film. Intriguing!  (2018, The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group)

Adapting The Wizard of Oz; Musical Versions from Baum to MGM and Beyond by Danielle Birkett and Dominic McHough (2018, Oxford Press) looks a bit more like academic than a “popular” read. Not many images, but loads of notes at the end of each chapter.  If you’d really like to learn something about Oz musical history, and I do, I’m guessing this book will take us there.

The Wonderful Animated World of the Wizard of Oz will be a much faster read with black and white images on every one of its 54 pages. Kevin Scott Collier authored for Cartoon Research. I counted 18 different productions covered, although the last chapter, “CGI Oz Productions 2007-present” actually bundles several productions together.  (2018, CreateSpace)

Rhys Thomas book from 1989 has been updated!  The Ruby Slippers of Oz; Thirty Years Later serves up 330 pages of focus on the most magical footwear ever.  The original book was as much mystery genre as any other;  Thomas traced the origins and current whereabouts of all the Ruby Slippers known to have actually been used in MGM’s production. I look forward to catching up with the journeys they’ve had these last three decades. Find it available at Lulu.com. (Sorry it’s not in photo pile, but this one’s wrapped and under the tree.)

Twenty years in the making, Dee Michel’s Friends of Dorothy: Why Gay Boys and Gay Men Love The Wizard of Oz, is one of those books I’m especially proud to have. Dee began his research long ago, and I have had the opportunity to hear him speak at Oz Club gatherings since our 2000 convention in Bloomington, Indiana. I appreciate his many references in his book to our Club and the encouragement he’s received from us. More than that, of course, gay and straight readers curious about his topic will enjoy learning about his discoveries. (2018, Dark Ink Press)

The Road to Wicked is topping my pile simply because it’s a bit smaller than other titles. It’s subtitled “The Marketing & Consumption of Oz from L. Frank Baum to Broadway.” I have great expectations. Three co-authors are credited, Kent Drummond, Susan Aronstein, and Terri L. Rittenburg, in this book that was described to me as sort of a text-book about the Oz brand.  The authors are marketing and English professors, so I am inclined to be believe that may be as concise a description as any. I can honestly say it’s the first Oz reference book I’ve thumbed through where I spotted pie charts!  (2018, Palgrave MacMillan)

I wrote a review of The Magic Belt by Paul Miles Schneider for the winter issue of the Baum Bugle, because I read it the minute I got it. Like his previous two Oz novels, I feel like a kid from Baum’s day demanding to know “what next?” when it comes to the adventures of Donald Gardner and his friends. Paul’s book is self-published, and easily found online at Paul’s website or through Amazon.  Without spoilers, I’ll just explain that Paul’s main character had an encounter with Oz magic in this world that turned his world upside down. Written in an action/adventure style, Paul has made Oz as real as Baum ever did, allowing powers of good and evil to erupt, and create for Donald situations ripe for a young hero to prove himself.

The Wizard of Oz; Where Is He Now? Is the other fiction title waiting for me. Written by Richard Mickelson, it’s illustrated in color by Patty Fleckenstein. Tate Publishing brings us this book, which was an early Christmas gift to me from an Oz friend. The story follows the adventures of an extra-small Munchkin girl who was stowed away in the Wizard’s basket when it left the Emerald City behind at the end of The Wizard of Oz. I won’t be able to tell you more until I read it!

Born Criminal: Matilda Joslyn Gage, Radical Suffragist is a fascinating biography of L. Frank Baum’s remarkable mother-in-law. She truly was a radical suffragist, an outspoken feminist, an abolitionist, and a brilliant writer who proposed ideas in the late 1800s that still challenge us today. Author Angelica Carpenter is a personal friend (and past Oz Club president) who sent me an early copy. I could not put it down. (2018, South Dakota Historical Society Press)

The Munchkins of Oz; Legends, Myths and Realities by Stephen Hoover appears to have been self-published in 2013. I stumbled across it looking for something else entirely, and went ahead and ordered a copy anyway.  Looks to be a quick read at 128 pages.  Nearly all the sources credited are websites, which does not make me confident I’ll find anything particularly new. However if there’s a Munchkin-loving gift recipient on your list, it might please.

I’m quite late to the party with Oz, the Marvel Omnibus.  The 2014 publication was released with a $125 list price that gave me pause. With used copies now on the market and the occasional comic shop offering its remaining copies at discounted rates, I was pleased to add it to my collection at last. This book gathers the six Skottie Young/Eric Shanower Marvel books into a single volume along with the Marvel Wizard of Oz Sketchbook and the Oz Primer. It’s also about the size and heft of three bricks; you are getting a lot for your money!

Speaking of weight, last year Bibliographia Baumiana was likely weighing down a few stockings. It remains available at Shop.OzClub.org. (If you’re a Club member, be sure to select the hard- or soft-cover volume with member pricing.)  This comprehensive guide to collecting L. Frank Baum’s non-Oz writings hits 400 pages and still keeps going.  Introductory essays by W. Neal Thompson (we all know him as Bill) are really fascinating to read and the bibliographic details provided are precisely what Baum collectors need to help gauge the edition, and therefore relative value, of any Baum book in their collection.

That can’t be all. I know Yookoohoos of Oz by Paul Dana with illustrations by Vincent Myrand was published this year. Both are friends who do fine work.  Oz fiction readers also might consider The Lost Tales of Oz, a collection of 18 new short stories in the Baum tradition. I’ve recently picked up some fascinating foreign language editions. Simply recommending would be an endless list this year. But my intent with this blog was to work my way through the pile currently sitting on the Oz room coffee table. And ta-da!!!  I’ve now done it.

Please, if you have additional titles in your own reading pile, tell us about them in the comments section. And most of all, enjoy your holiday reading!

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