Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz : 100th Anniversary Edition (Books of Wonder)

L. Frank Baum

Date: 2005-07-21 16:58:41   —   $16.49   —   Book

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Fiction, Fantasy, Children's

I actually read the original book fairly late in the game. I'd seen the movie, naturally enough, but I first ended up reading a later book in the series, Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz. This was because the copy my mother had of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was, more specifically, The Annotated Wizard of Oz, and I had some strange idea of what "Annotated" meant.

I was, after all, only a kid.

After reading several chapters of Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, however, I was forced to admit that even given the discrepancies between movies and books, this could not be the original book on which the movie was based. So after a while I asked my mother and she pointed me at the Annotated copy, which I hated. That copy of the book was very wide, and had two columns of notes on the outer part of each page, while the inner part was dedicated to a facsimile of the original publication.

I can take footnotes, I can take endnotes, but I can't stand sidenotes. When your eye is drawn to text they are nastily distracting; the flow of the story is completely interrupted.

What was worse in this case was that I had read most of the other Oz books, and had gotten very fond of the John R. Neil illustrations. The Denslow pictures in the original story annoyed me for some subtle reason, probably the child's love of the familiar.

So what is the purpose of all of this? Merely to say that I still don't much care for that copy, I am still distracted by the sidenotes, and if you want a copy for your child, get a simple story version such as the one above. Much happier for all concerned.

And if you don't already know the story, you are hopelessly estranged from popular culture.

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