The Real Wizard of Oz|
The Life and Times of L. Frank Baum
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". . .meticulously and passionately gathered facts about the elusive creator of “The Wizard of Oz” . . . "
The timeless movie classic The Wizard of Oz holds a place in the hearts and memories of everyone who has ever seen it. We all remember the fear we felt when Dorothy and Toto were picked up by the tornado, our awe when Dorothy steps out of black and white and into the technicolor land of Oz, our compassion for the Scarecrow, the Tin-Man and the Cowardly Lion and many more spectrums of emotion as the whole film unfolded before our hungry eyes. Yet, not many people know much about the creator of Oz, L. Frank Baum (1856-1919). The Real Wizard of Oz–The Life and Times of L. Frank Baum by Rebecca Loncraine, takes us through a literary biography of the man who felt he “discovered” Oz as opposed to inventing it. She presents a marvelous tale of American life during that period.
Mr. Baum grew up in the Dakotas and experienced the emptiness of prairie life and eventually the creation of Hollywood. He lived through a time where infant and childhood mortality affected every family, and the American Dream was born. People began to see real life “miracles” in such things as PT. Barnum’s traveling circus, the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893 and the Age of Industry. These events coincided with the heartbreak of observing extreme poverty, the shock of men coming home from war with amputated limbs, realities which still affect the human race. Through this sadness creativity emerged, and L. Frank Baum’s Oz was conceived and brought to life by not a wizard but by a real man.
The Wizard of Oz series is comprised of thirteen books, transferring Baum’s life, experiences and hopes onto every page. In order to make sense of the death of children, Mr. Baum created a land where children never die and magic is at everyone’s fingertips. He based his Emerald City on “The White City” that comprised the Chicago World’s Fair, yet the Emerald City was more than the tents and sheets that formed the illusion of the White City. Baum’s readers believed in the power of Oz and The Emerald City and his readers, mainly children, would send Baum letters asking how to get to Oz, giving him ideas for more books in the series.
Rebecca Loncraine meticulously and passionately gathered facts about the elusive creator of The Wizard of Oz. She uncovered the real Wizard of Oz–a man, who like many other great artists, unfortunately did not see the fruition of his painstaking work, dying before the 1939 movie’s creation. What Baum did accomplish was something far more important. He brought, and still brings, hope, magic and peace of mind to many generations of children and adults. Baum’s magic was not that of a humbug wizard but of a very talented and humble man. His work shows that there is a real place inside of all of us where the dreams that we dare to dream really do come true.
Reviewer: Angela Garner McCabe