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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum, is part of the Barnes & Noble ClassicsÂ series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics: New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars Biographies of the authors Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events Footnotes and endnotes Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work Comments by other famous authors Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations Bibliographies for further reading Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences-biographical, historical, and literary-to
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Â Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, the Cowardly Lion-they're now as beloved a part of American folklore as Johnny Appleseed and Paul Bunyan. Since its first publication in 1900, L. Frank Baum's story of a little girl carried away by a tornado to the strange and beautiful Land of Oz has had an extraordinary emotional impact on wide-eyed readers young and old. As Dorothy journeys down the yellow brick road to the Emerald City, hoping the Great and Terrible Wizard who lives there will help her return home, she shares adventures with the famous trio of characters, defeats a wicked witch, and learns about the power of friendship, loyalty, and self-confidence. While scholars have debated for decades over possible political meanings hidden within the tale, Baum himself claimed he simply wanted to write a "modernized fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heartaches and nightmares are left out." As it has done for generations past, this classic of fantasy adventure speaks movingly about what every child needs: the Woodman's compassion, the Lion's courage, and the Scarecrow's wisdom. With original illustrations by William Wallace Denslow. J. T. Barbarese teaches at Rutgers University in Camden, New Jersey, where he is a member of the Rutgers Center for Children and Childhood Studies. He is the author of four books of poetry and a translation of Euripides. Â
About The Author J. T. Barbarese teaches at Rutgers University in Camden, New Jersey, where he is a member of the Rutgers Center for Children and Childhood Studies. He is the author of four books of poetry and a translation of Euripides.
Biography Dorothy, Toto, the Scarecrow, Aunt Em -- where would our national psyche be without The Wonderful Wizard of Oz? L. Frank Baum, who created a story with an indelible, sometimes haunting impression on so many people, led a life that had a fairy-tale quality of its own.
Baum was born in 1856 to a family that had made a fortune in the oil business. Because he had a heart condition, his parents arranged for him to be tutored privately at the family's Syracuse estate, "Roselawn." As an adult, though, Baum flourished and failed at a dizzying variety of ventures, from writing plays to a stint with his family's medicinal oil business (where he produced a potion called "Baum's Castorine"), to managing a general store, to editing the Aberdeen Pioneer in Aberdeen, South Dakota. In 1897, following his mother-in-law's advice, Baum wrote down the stories that he told his children. The firm of Way & Williams published the stories under the title Mother Goose in Prose, with illustrations by Maxfield Parrish, and Baum's career as a writer was launched. With the publication of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1900, Baum gained instant success. The book, lavishly produced and featuring voluptuous illustrations by William Wallace Denslow, was the bestselling children's book of the year. It also set a new standard for children's literature. As a commentator for the September 8, 1900 New York Times described it, "The crudeness that was characteristic of the oldtime publications...would now be enough to cause the modern child to yell with rage and vigor..." The reviewer praised the book's sheer entertainment value (its "bright and joyous atmosphere") and likened it to The Story of the Three Bears for its enduring value. As the film industry emerged in the following years, few books were as manifestly destined for adaptation, and although it took almost four decades for a movie studio to translate Baum's vision to film, the 1939 film did for the movies what Baum's book had done for children's literature: that is, raised the imaginative and technical bar higher than it had been before. The loss of parents, the inevitable voyage toward independence, the yearning for home -- in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Baum touched upon a child's primal experiences while providing a rousing story of adventure. As his health declined, Baum continued the series with 14 more Oz books (his publisher commissioned more by other authors after
his death), but none had quite the effect on the reading public that the first one did. Baum died from complications of a stroke in 1919.
Good To Know Baum founded the National Association of Window Trimmers and published a magazine for the window-trimming trade - he also raised exotic chickens. Buam was married to Maud Gage, a daughter of the famous women's rights advocate Matilda Joslyn Gage.
Reviews When a cyclone whisked Dorothy far from the gray prairies of Kansas to the colorful Land of Oz, it not only set a courageous and determined little girl on a series of unforgettable adventures-it blew fresh air into children's literature. The Wizard of Oz is what the author called "a modern fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heartache and nightmares left out." It's now more than a hundred years since Dorothy and her endearing companions-her mischievous dog Toto, the brainless but practical-minded Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, and the kindly Tin Woodsman who longs for a heart-first marched along the yellow brick road into storybook history. In this edition, Michael Foreman's bright, whimsical watercolors of Dorothy and her friends capture the enchanting essence of L. Frank Baum's "wondertale."
This book is an excellent allegory. Baum wrote this during the populism movement, and the character parallels are amazing, and the way he weaved his political and ethical beliefs into this fantasy book is amazing.
With the chopping heads off by the Tin Woodman and the winged monkeys ripping off the Scarecrow, I think this "children's classic" is PG-13. But seriously, I loved reading this book because the adventure never ends. Each chapter flows into each other. A great read.
After reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, I was completely pleasantly surprised. I have seen the movie more times than I can count and have performed the play more than once so I am extremely familiar with the story. I was very sure there was no way the story of the Wizard of Oz could re-spark my interest but I was wrong. In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Baum's writing is very simple making it accessible to all age groups. After realizing this, I understood how the book became such a classic. The simplistic writing didn't take away from the story at all, though. I found that the plot of Dorothy traveling through Oz, trying to return to Kansas, was far more intricate than in the film adaptation. The story was much more fantasy based, as well. The whimsical details created a story so magical I couldn't help but be pulled in. The story also spoke to a message about personal potential, a theme I had not connected to before while watching the movie. Throughout the novel, there are many instances of the scarecrow, lion, and tin man acting contradictorily to what their supposed problem is. For example, the lion acts against his fear and protects the rest of the characters while in the woods. This courageous act proves that the lion and all of the characters do not need the help of Oz and was capable all along. This is reinforced when Oz gives them gifts that have no real effect at the end of the book. This lesson of personal potential is a great one for kids to learn and in general, is an uplifting message for all. All in all, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a classic for a reason; it tells a wonderful, captivating story that speaks to all ages and people.
Read An Excerpt From J. T. Barbarese's Introduction to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
For readers who come to the novel after having grown up with the movie, the biggest shock is to find in the novel none of the film's comforting, gap-filling backstory. Some of the cinematic revisions, such as the snowstorm that wakes the sleepers in the poppy field and that replaces their rescue by the Queen of the Mice in chapter IX, were costefficient alternatives to special effects that might have proven impossible or inadequate to the illusion.5 The change from Silver Shoes to Ruby Slippers in the 1939 movie, as most people know, was dictated by technical considerations (red showed up more vividly on the film stock of the period than silver); and American culture would be poorer without some of its memorable dialogue. But the principal changes are in the overall characterization and in retrospect seem less defensible. In the book Uncle Henry and Auntie Em never really emerge from the background and appear together only in chapter I, Auntie Em appearing alone in the very brief closing chapter. The film, however, shows them as loveable (if two-toned) representatives of a loveable Kansas home. Margaret Hamilton's Wicked Witch turns out to be one more ripple in Dorothy's concussed subconscious and the Kansas prototype of the Wicked Witch of the West, who even has a name-Almira Gulch. Auntie Em is hardly the "thin and gaunt," childless old woman whose eyes had lost their sparkle and were as gray as Kansas. She is an all-American original with a tongue and a personality to match. "Almira Gulch," she says on hearing of Almira's plan to destroy Toto, "just because you own half the county doesn't mean you have the power to run the rest of us!" Perhaps the biggest change is in Dorothy herself, who is actually a feistier child in the novel than on film. Consider the witch's death. The film stages the event as an accidentDorothy aims a bucket of water at the burning Scarecrow and douses the witch instead. But the novel makes it no accident. The witch tricks Dorothy and obtains one of her Silver Shoes. Dorothy gets "so very angry that she picked up the bucket of water that stood near and dashed it over the Witch." Judy Garland's Dorothy is tearfully apologetic; Baum's is outspoken and "angry."6 The screenwriters (Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, and Edgar Allan Woolf) also expanded the roles of the three companions and turned the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Lion into metamorphosed versions of farmhands named Hunk, Hickory, and Zeke. Professor Marvel (Frank Morgan), the genial fraud who watches Dorothy head off as the tornado prepares to descend, reenters her dream vision as the Wizard (as well as, once in the City of Oz, the doorman of the Emerald City, a cabdriver, and the Wizard's guard). These were more than touches of simple psychological realism. Like the technical stroke to shift to color from black and white when Dorothy arrives in Munchkin Land and the suddenly indispensable musical score, these permanent contributions to the Oz mythology are also improvisations that may not necessarily constitute improvements.7 They blur the clarity of the original, superimposing a second relational network on a clearer original. Dorothy and her companions each lack something and venture to the Emerald City to request it of the Wizard to find it, but in the novel neither the companions nor their deficiencies have reciprocal counterparts in the "real" world of Kansas. Oz is no Purgatory or compensatory educational experience, and it is definitely no metaphor for unconsciousness. Yet the film persuades the audience of a nearly allegorical symmetry between Kansas and Oz and raises unique questions. Is this Dorothy's way of disclosing in dream truths too dangerous or painful to bear while awake? Are the three companions, like the three beasts who temporarily block Dante's entrance to Hell, reflections of flaws in her personality? We don't really know. The movie supplies teasing closures to questions that only it raises. The screenwriters' brilliant adaptation-whether you find it welcome or not-turns each character into a symbolic referent, a point on a carefully plotted postcyclonic rainbow that begins and ends in Kansas. As a result, the film displaces emphasis from fantasy to psychology and makes several "unforgivable" changes.8 Whatever its justification in commercial or technical terms, the film forces its audience to measure the distance between Kansas and Oz in psychic, not imaginative, terms; it tidies up certain loose ends, such as the origins of the Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow, each of whose histories is explained in the book, by eliminating the need for explanations. Everything that occurs in the end occurs in Dorothy's mind. This is an essential point: Baum's Oz, like the Elysian Fields in Greek mythology or the witch's house in "Hansel and Gretel," is a place you can get to from here. There is no complicated prospectus, more fit for adults than children, of dream projections of waking originals. The text has a serene confidence in its own imaginative conditions that, along with its disquietingly simple style, are its lasting strengths. For those raised on the movie, what is "missing" is surface
complexity, density of characterization, and witty dialogue. Baum's prose is clear and childlike and represents an uncompromising attention to plot rather than style, to events over character. It's almost as if children's literature had found in Baum its own Homer, a writer whose straightforward and occasionally pedestrian style is the determined outcome of the oddness of the story he has to tell. You may miss the character overlays of the film and its calculated verbal ironies, derivative of the more sophisticated children's books. You may long for the closure you feel when you see Ray Bolger behind the Scarecrow's outlines or hear the Wizard in Professor Marvel's voice.9 On the other hand, the novel dispensed with Wonderland-ish exits such as Dorothy's coming to at the end or the final tableau where the ensemble, including Professor Marvel, gathers around her bed like a Broadway cast taking a second bow. While the last person to consult in matters of intention is the author, it's noteworthy that Baum's stated purpose was to "please children of today" with "a modernized fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heartaches and nightmares are left out." Simplicity, in other words, was his goal, not stylistic flash or psychological nuance.
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