Tag Archives: the wizard of oz

Wicked by Gregory Maguire

At this point, dear readers, we should all be very familiar with the Wicked Witch of the West. You know, the green one. That mean lady with the pointy nose and chin that wanted to take Dorothy’s beautiful ruby (or silver) slippers. I was first introduced to her in 1991, when my Aunt Jo (who is very adept in makeup) went as the WWW for Halloween and scared me so badly I hid under my grandma’s kitchen table. I still haven’t forgotten the pea green face and the terrible cackle.

“I’m melting! I’m melting! Oh, what a world!”  

In Gregory Maguire’s much acclaimed Wicked (on which the famous musical is based) we finally get to hear the witch’s side of the story. In fact, Dorothy (that little shoe-snatching swine) doesn’t even come in until the very last couple of chapters. We learn that “Elphaba” has lived and loved just like the rest of us and not only is she iron-willed in her convictions, she’s also not abnormally malicious. She simply has the power to think very hard and sometimes bad things happen to her enemies. Oh… The people who would be injured if that were the case…

But, I digress.

Wicked was quite a bit more politically-based than I ever had anticipated, almost to a point where I couldn’t tolerate it. Everything was about different races and their territories, power struggles, Animal (with a capital ‘A’) rights, political double-dealing, and intrigue. But even my description of it makes it sound more interesting than it really was. It was, actually, not that wicked. In fact, it was kinda boring.

(It surprised me that Wicked was only written in 1990, because Maguire’s prose and dialogue read much much older.)

In the beginning of the story, when Elphaba came out green–born to two noticeably not green parents–it was obviously a bit of a shock. Things moved along quickly and her very immoral mother paired with her religiously zealous father made quite an interesting duo. But after her teenage years spent at a girl’s boarding college, the plot slowed down substantially. I mean… I enjoyed going “Oh hey! That’s Glinda the Good Witch” or “Oh hey! That’s how the flying monkeys got started!” but it wasn’t nearly enough to carry the whole book.

If I’m going to read about the WWW, I expect dastardly deeds and malicious acts. And fine, she’s not all that dastardly. I expect some dirty sex scenes at least! What really made her bad? I don’t get it. She was a silent nun under a vow of silence for seven years! Give me a break!

2 pointy black hats of 5

(Oh, and coincidentally, the Kindle file I read also contained The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. I didn’t really care for that either. So sue me!)

The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi

For those of you with the misfortune of NOT knowing who Tony DiTerlizzi is, let me inform you. Not only is he a critically acclaimed illustrator, he’s the author and co-author of many young adult/middle grade bestsellers such as The Spiderwick Chronicles (co-authored with Holly Black), Kenny and the Dragon, and The Search for WondLa Trilogy. I feel that DiTerlizzi has done for this generation what Brian Froud did for the last–helped children (and adults) the world over bring fantastical imaginings to life with a rare artistic talent. I strongly encourage you to check out his blog/website/sketchbook, which is why I’ve provided a link above.

And, if I could illustrate half as well as he can… Let’s just say I could die happy.

I would describe The Search for WondLa as a futuristic Wizard of Oz. In fact, Eva Nine’s journey is like Star Wars and the Wizard of Oz combined. There’s a young innocent girl desperately seeking something, a patchy smart-aleck accomplice, a companion made of metal, and a lumbering loveable beast. All suddenly–and rather violently–landed into a wonderful and dangerous world. 

While, DiTerlizzi’s novel didn’t hold me in thrall the way that Holly Black’s have done in the past, I did enjoy this story. It’s one of those send-a-message-but-not-shove-it-down-your-throat ideas. I think it will especially resonate with today’s youth, since it begs the question: What really makes a family? It isn’t always the Pleasantville archtype–in fact, nuclear families are becoming the rare these days… A family is a patchwork quilt of people (or aliens, in this case) who love you and want to protect you and lift you up. Very nice.

DiTerlizzi also includes something within the story that is the first I have stumbled upon… Augmented Reality. The story includes small markings at the bottom of a few pages within, and after downloading an app from his website, readers are invited to share “WondLa vision.” This includes interactive maps of Eva’s world, as well as three-dimensional “Total Immersion” techniques in which the reader can move around by altering the distance the book is from the screen. 

We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto…

Unfortunately, due to my sudden move I was without Internet access for a few days *gasp!* and while I was reading WondLa, I had no way to get online. Alas, the book is now 4000+ miles away from me. I’ll have to look into it some other time.

3 Omnipods of 5