Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Young Girl's Journey to Oz

The original 1908 cover to Dorothy and the Wiz...
The original 1908 cover to Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz by L. Frank Baum. Designed by artist John R. Neill, reproduced for a modern facsimile edition. Now out of copyright. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chapter 1

The Earthquake

The story opens as Dorothy is on her way to meet Uncle Henry at Hugson's ranch just outside of San Francisco. Her second cousin, a boy named Zeb, has come to pick her up.  Dorothy and Uncle Henry plan to return to Kansas the next day, but during a massive earthquake, the ground opens and Dorothy and Zeb fall deep into the earth.

Judging by the illustrations Dorothy appears to be a young girl who hasn't had her first period.

The surprise to modern eyes and the magic to young female readers is that she is unaccompanied by an adult and that the train has dropped her off at 5 o'clock in the morning in the dark and misty countryside.

"The train from 'Frisco was late. It should have stopped at Hugson's siding at midnight, but it was already five o'clock and the dawn was breaking in the east ..."

L. Frank Baum published this story, the 4th in the Oz series, in 1908, two years after the great earthquake in San Francisco.

The fact that the earthquake prone California setting reflects the way the earth seems to be always shifting under the feet of a pubescent girl speaks to the author's keen understanding of human nature.

If you have been, taught or lived with an 11 year old girl you'll know what I mean.

"... all night long there were times when the solid earth shook and trembled ..."

The author has a wonderful grasp of the the intelligence and courage of young girls as they journey towards womanhood, (the tragedy of the series is that Dorothy was never allowed to grow up and get that first period), but on occasion he seems to remember the norms of society and throws in a little something to placate his conscience.

"The horrible sensation of falling, the darkness and the terrifying noises, proved more than Dorothy could endure and for a few moments the girl lost consciousness.  Zeb, being a boy, did not faint ..."

And so chapter 1 ends, Dorothy is unconscious and she, Zeb, the carriage, Zeb's old horse, Jim, and Dorothy's cat Eureka are falling deep inside the earth.

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Introverted Art said...

Just a little girl, so different from the movie we watch every year :) Beautiful cover.

Gina said...

There is so much of this story I do not know. Having grown up with just the movie I am in awe of these other stories. I can feel a book collection coming on! :D XXX

maddyrose said...

I read every book about Oz that I could get my hands on while growing up and this was one of my favorites because Dorothy was a part of it. I agree that Baum did an admirable job of portraying a young girls' thoughts and emotions in his books. Great post for this celebration.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like it is so much more interesting than the film, isn't that usually the way. Clearly I should read it. I like the cover illustration very much.

Victoria said... very cool..fabulous post Francie....and I love the cover-art. Beautiful!
Wishing you a beautiful wkd ahead!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

The very best children's literature always noticeably lacks parents and other adult control figures! I adored the original "Wizard of Oz" book when I was a kid. Never read any of the sequels though. Interesting post!

❀~Myrna~❀ said...

I love the books & the movie ! Happy Return To Oz Celebration!

OmaLindasOldeBaggsandStuftShirts said...

Super post. This is also one of my favorites. And I am living with a 12 year old girl and I should get a copy of that book for her. It would do us both a world of good for discussion. Thanks for being a part of Celebrate Oz. I do hope you've had a good time and will join us next year in the spring for another Celebrate Oz. Oma Linda

Magaly Guerrero said...

One of the things I like most about The Wizard of Oz, is the way in which it allows the kids who can't yet understand all the intricacies of the reading enjoy and good tale, while the kids at heart--the ones who have lived more--see past the rainbows and the sparkle and glance into the not so clear heart of the human condition.

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

What a lovely and interesting cover. I've never seen that before. And I can't for the life of me remember if I've read any Oz books. I've always been an avid reader, so I can't imagine that I didn't.

Anyway, maybe the memory gets weaker with age...

I've been an 11-year-old girl and raised two of my own, so I understand that age and all that goes with it perfectly.

Jane said...

This is so adorable! It's all new to me - never heard this version before. Thanks for introducing me, but now I want to hear more installments... :) That cover illustration is lovely.

Doug Jamieson said...

Good old Zeb. What a trouper for not fainting and everything.

By the way, I thought you were taking the summer off. Can't stop, eh?

The Episcopagan said...

Ha ha. Just slowing down, Doug.

Magic Love Crow said...

Very interesting! I have only seen the movie. There is so much out there to discover! Happy Celebration Oz ;o)