The article by L. Frank Baum from The Chicago Evening Post was wonderful. It really may be one of the best pieces I’ve ever read on the subject of good books for children. He covers basic child psychology and even establishes that boys and girls should really be given the same books. I’m certain that librarians at the time must have hated this article (and many today would be none too fond of it either). I’m so thrilled by this piece, though, I may just write a paper on it sometime!
“The Discontented Gopher” was a very moralistic story for Baum and somewhat unlike his fantastical novels. The realistic characterizations and wonderful descriptions are recognizably Baum’s flavor, but the heavy-handed moralizing seems rather out of place. The story itself is good, though. I like that Baum sees a world where each species has a set of fairies looking after it, but that even with a fairy’s gift you must do well for yourself and work for what you have. Even fairy’s gifts aren’t free, they only truly come to those who work for them. I liked the story a lot, but found the moralizing too obvious.
L. Frank Baum’s animal fairy tales sound very interesting. They don’t sound as good as many of his other works by any means, but that doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t be quite interesting to read. There is one included in this volume and of the stories West discussed in his essay it is probably one of the ones I was most intrigued by! I’d love to read the others as well, though.
Baum’s “Editor’s Musings” columns on theosophy are quite interesting, but my favorite column by far was the one about maintaining happiness and domestic bliss. His stated opinions in there are wonderful, but highly unorthodox, especially for the time period! His piece about the importance of truth in advertising was excellent as well. I loved how he advocates that a good product should be worth “a good round price”. His writing really is fascinating to read!
The article by Nancy Tystad Koupal about Baum’s years as a newspaper editor in Aberdeen, South Dakota was fairly interesting. It discussed both his editorials and his more subtle ways of communicating his thoughts and opinions to his readers, such as the “Our Landlady” features and advertisements. I found parts of the article repetitive and dull, but Baum’s use of poetry and writing in ads were particularly interesting. In general I think I would enjoy seeing the papers or articles themselves far more than I did reading about them.
I find it interesting that of the three of the long poems printed about baseball (there was one short one readable in an illustration as well, but it differed from the others), all three were about people discussing baseball, not playing it. I found that fascinating, since most of the baseball poems and stories I’m read spend more time describing the game or the players than the reactions and discussions of the crowd. Of course, “Take Me Out To the Ballgame” about Katie and her beau follows Baum’s pattern and is probably the most famous baseball poem/song ever (even if nobody remembers the verses anymore). Perhaps he truly found the fans more interesting. In many ways they are!
The baseball team that L. Frank Baum was the secretary for had a rather unusual problem it seems (or perhaps not so unusual?). They failed, ultimately, because they were too good at the game. They won too much, so few teams wanted to play them and even fewer teams were willing to come to their home park to play, which meant travel and few profits. It was quite odd, but I could definitely see how it could lead to failure!
This book should be really interesting. It’s about the time Baum spent in South Dakota, which is often sort of glossed over in biographies of him. It must have made an impact, however, because he set a number of stories in that landscape (not the least of which is Henry and Em’s farm in the Oz books). It should be interesting!
The reading group guide at the back of this book actually wasn’t bad.Â I’m floored.Â It wasn’t great, but it was much, much better than I have come to expect from such guides.Â The questions varied between obvious ones to ask to insightful ones that might actually provoke good discussions.Â Best of all, none of them were terribly insulting.Â The list of suggested reading was ok, but could have been much better.Â Most of it seemed to be little more than a list of titles mentioned at one point or another by the author throughout the text of the book.Â In general it wasn’t great and I wouldn’t actually use it, but it wasn’t bad either.
Ok, so I’m sure that it’s pretty clear to anyone who’se been reading my thoughts on this book that I have loved it.Â It’s an amazingly good book.Â But it just sort of stopped.Â Memoirs tend to do that and it sort of annoys me.Â I mean, clearly the person living in the story is alive and writing it, so the story can’t really have ended yet, but it still seems like many memoirs could end in better places than they do.Â I just find it frustrating.Â Is Nassrin ever going to write that paper?Â Will Nafisi see her magician again?Â What about the country itself – what is going to happen to it?Â I hate how I don’t get the ending!Â I know that it hasn’t happened yet and I’m being kind of irrational, but still…Â I like a good ending.
This book was still amazing.
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