Are you ready for another book review? Lucinda is here, prepared to give my interpretation of one more two-legged story.
Writing these reviews has caused me to participate in an activity not usual to cats, at least for long periods of time. I have been thinking. I came up with an idea tonight that I wanted to share. Since two-leggeds live so long, it takes longer to teach them what they need to know.
We cats learn what we need from our mothers, and once we are weaned, the training is finished. The two-legged’s lessons are not given just by their mothers, but from what is called the “school system.” The years that the child spends in this school system teaches them all the rest of what they can’t learn from their mothers.
Since two-leggeds live so much longer than we, they have expanded their knowledge. First of all, they learn to read and write. As you know, I am a rare cat that has this ability. Two-legged children study something called science, which teaches them how all kinds of things in the world work.
They also have a much more fully developed imagination than we, giving them the skill to make up fantastic stories, such as the one I will review today.
Cats are fortunate, as we don’t need all that complexity in our lives. We lead a very simple existence. If I can touch something with my paw, I gain some ideas about it. If I smell it, my marvelous nose gives me much more information.
I can see it. If it makes noise, I can hear it. Sometimes I touch it with my tongue to see if it has a taste. All these senses give me an idea about the object. I may classify it as useful or as of no importance, depending on what my senses tell me.
One of the things that the writers of these stories seem to emphasize are ideas that you cannot touch — ideas such as love or courage or conscious thinking. Two-leggeds become entangled in emotions. Cats are realists and do not dwell on the intangibles.
Our wants and needs are simpler, and in most situations, we don’t compete. We have emotions but we don’t get tangled up in them. We know our own worth. We don’t feel the need to be superior to another.
Now, on to the story. Today I will review The Wizard of Oz, written by L. Frank Baum. It is another tale that makes use of the two-legged imagination to create a whole world that doesn’t really exist.
There is a small dog in this story, called Toto. The dog is actually a pretty admirable character. I will compare his actions to what mine might have been, were I on this journey.
In the beginning of the story, Dorothy is at the farm of her Uncle Henry and Aunt Em. When a dangerous cyclone whips through the land, Dorothy is supposed to join her aunt and uncle in the storm cellar for safety. However, Dorothy can’t catch Toto, who hides in the house. Dorothy ends up staying in the house with the dog when the cyclone hits.
The concept of a cyclone is unknown to me. I looked it up and learned that it is a spiraling, rotating heavy wind that can do a lot of damage when it touches ground. In this story, it carried off the whole house, with Dorothy and Toto inside.
Anyway, the wind carries off the house, and they ride for hours and hours. Dorothy falls asleep. Now, if I had been Toto, at that point I would have come out of hiding and climbed in bed to cuddle with Dorothy, both for her protection and for my own.
When the cyclone finally sets them down again, they are far from home. Dorothy says to Toto when they come out of the house, “We aren’t in Kansas anymore.”
Language confuses me. I thought that the word “in” meant “inside of something,” like, for example, “in the house.” So how can you be “in Kansas?” I understand that Kansas is the name of a huge piece of land. How can you be inside the land?
My CCL (Cantankerous Cat Lady) explained to me that as long as you were within the borders of the place called Kansas, you were “in Kansas.” So glad to have this matter clarified.
It seems they are in a fantastic place called Munchkinland, that is inhabited by a group of very small two-leggeds. It seems that these people were enslaved by a creature called the Wicked Witch of the East. Then the house arrives, and lands right on the witch, killing her. Only her feet, wearing a pair of red slippers, could be seen under the edge of the house.
Though Dorothy is very sorry that the house killed someone, the munchkins are ecstatic, as they are no longer enslaved.
Dorothy and Toto meet Glinda, the beautiful Witch of the North, who gives Dorothy the dead witch’s red slippers to wear for protection. Don’t ask me how they were supposed to protect her — I saw no sharp pointy claws on them. I learned that the shoes’ power to protect came from another made-up idea called magic.
Glinda tells them to follow the yellow brick road to the Emerald City. Dorothy can ask the Wizard how she can get home again.
Dorothy and Toto follow the road. The first creature they meet is a scarecrow, fastened high on a pole over a field. They help him get down from the pole, and he asks if he can join them. He wants to ask the Wizard for some brains.
This creature was very strange. I would not have been afraid of him because he is made of straw. In fact, at night I might have tried to make a small bed in the straw of his body, as it would make a warm place to sleep. However, as he talked and walked, I suppose this behavior would be frowned upon.
The next character they meet is a man made out of tin, called the Tin Woodsman, who is much in need of an oil can to oil his rusted joints. This one might have scared me a little, but since he got along with Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and Toto, I guess I would have become used to him.
The distance to the Emerald City seems to be quite long. I would have gotten very tired of walking. Even though I have four feet, the two-leggeds take bigger strides, and I would get tired. I am sure I would have run up Dorothy’s side to her shoulder and traveled there for a good bit of the way. I could rest and I could also see better what was out in front of us.
Then there was the lion, a distant relative. When they first met him, he roared loudly. I would have definitely found a place to hide after that roar! However, the lion says he is a coward and would like to join the company to visit the wizard. The lion wishes to ask for courage, so he could become a real king of beasts.
One awkward thing about this story that I noticed: All the characters except Toto could talk. Why is that? Is it because he didn’t talk in Kansas? Interesting.
The group of five travel well together, helping each other over obstacles. When they come to a large ditch, all the creatures ride on the lion’s back and he jumps across the ditch.
In a field of beautiful but deadly poppies, Dorothy, Toto, and the Lion fall into a deep sleep. The Scarecrow and Tin Woodsman carry two of them out of the field. However, they had to have help to move the lion. They received aid from thousands of field mice, who are able to lift the lion.
It would have been hard for me to resist chasing some of those mice, but sometimes duty must come before personal desire.
Here’s another thing that bothers me about this story. When, where, and what do they eat? What did they feed the dog? Dorothy had no dog food with her, and Toto certainly wasn’t a hunter. Sometimes it is hard to remember that this is just a story, so it is not necessary to be concerned over the characters.
The group finally arrives at the Emerald City. The guard at the gate says no one had requested a visit with the Wizard for many years. They are told they can see him, but one at a time and on separate days.
All four see a different version of the Wizard. There is a massive head, a beautiful woman, a frightening creature, and a ball of fire. They are all told that the Wicked Witch of the West must be killed before their wishes can be granted. Disappointed, nevertheless, they head west.
The Witch knows they are coming. She sends her servants to destroy them. There is a pack of 40 wolves, a flock of crows, and a group of black bears. Each swarm is defeated.
Finally, the Witch sends winged monkeys. These are bound to a Golden Cap, owned by the Witch. She can command the monkeys to do whatever she wants, three times. The Witch commanded them to destroy the Tin Woodsman and the Scarecrow, and to bring Dorothy and the lion to her.
The Witch could not destroy Dorothy because Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, had given her a mark of protection. So the evil one put Dorothy to work in her kitchen. She chained the lion, because he would not work for her.
Because Toto is small, the Witch does not notice him, so he escapes. He finds the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodsman, who have not been killed by the monkeys, and he leads them to the place where the others are in captivity.
Meanwhile, the Witch notices Dorothy’s red slippers, and realizes that they are the source of Dorothy’s protection. The Witch tries to trip Dorothy, so the shoes will fall off. Dorothy gets mad and throws a pail of water over the Witch.
To her shock, the water melts the evil Witch. Dorothy is free, as well as the Winkies, creatures the Witch had enslaved.
Then the group is reunited. It is very good that they had a small animal like Toto with them, as he was able to slip away undetected. If I had been on this journey, I could also have slipped away, found the missing two, and helped them reunite.
Since Dorothy now has the Golden Cap, she commands the winged monkeys to take them to the Emerald City. When they arrive, the Wizard says he cannot help them. The lion roars in anger, scaring Toto. He tumbles into a curtain, pulling it aside to reveal a small, elderly man.
Now, if I had been there, I wouldn’t have waited for the lion to scare me. I would have looked behind that curtain out of curiosity, and would have discovered the imposter.
The man explains that he is a ventriloquist from Omaha (this is a city close to Kansas) who had accidentally landed in Oz when the wind blew his balloon off course.
Now, wait a minute. I had to learn what a ventriloquist does. I learned, but still can’t understand it. He throws his voice, so it comes out someplace other than from him. I can’t picture it. How could he take his voice, which is inside him, and throw it anywhere?
Nevertheless, he did it, and made those four illusions he had created — the head, the woman, the scary creature, and the ball of fire — seem like they could talk. What an amazing concept!
And the balloon — How did he travel in a balloon? I’ve seen the creatures they call airplanes — a big, hollow bird that carries passengers inside it. But how could you get in a balloon?
Apparently it is gigantic, and is fastened to a basket. Somehow the Wizard could control movements up, down, and sideways, and could get the balloon to carry him in the basket.
I don’t blame Toto for not wanting to get in that basket. I would have made my escape as well. So Dorothy couldn’t fly either, because she had to catch Toto. Good dog!
Dorothy asked the winged monkeys if they could take her home, but they said they could not go beyond the
borders of Munchkinland. A soldier in the Emerald City suggested they contact the Good Witch of the South, Glinda. So again they journey, having more adventures along the way.
When they arrive, Glinda tells Dorothy that the red shoes have the power to take her home. All she has to do is click the heels together three times and say where she wants to go.
Amazing, how the writer came up with this idea. He can use the cover of magic to allow objects to do whatever he wishes. Too bad we don’t have such a thing in the real world.
Glinda then explains that the things the trio wanted — a brain, a heart, and courage — they already had. The Scarecrow couldn’t walk, talk, and help his friends without a brain. The Tin Woodsman wouldn’t care what happened to his companions if he didn’t have a heart, and the lion already had courage. If you are scared, and you still face what frightens you, that is courage. So, for all three the quest is successful, and Dorothy learns how to go home.
To end the story, Dorothy gives Glinda the Golden Cap. Glinda makes three very good wishes. She sends the Scarecrow back to take charge of the Emerald City and the Tin Woodsman to rule over the Winkies. The lion becomes the King of the Beasts in the forest. She gives the cap back to the monkeys and sets them free.
The red shoes take Dorothy and Toto home, though they fly off her feet on the trip. The pair of adventurers land on the Kansas prairie, where Aunt Em is astonished to see them. Dorothy declares that it is good to be home.
If I had been on this journey, I, too, would be very glad to be home…back to a familiar routine, regular meals, a cozy place to sleep, my two-legged nearby. I fear I am not really an adventurous sort of kitty.
There you have it, my friends. If you would like to purchase a hard-cover copy of The Wizard of Oz, click on the image of the book or on the blue-highlighted book title. You will be taken to Barnes and Noble, where you can order your copy.
Title: The Wizard of Oz
Purchase Price: $16.19