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A Brief Guide to Oz: 75 Years of Going Over the Rainbow
Paul Simpson
Constable & Robinson, 258 pages

A Brief Guide to Oz: 75 Years of Going Over the Rainbow
Paul Simpson
Paul Simpson is the author or co-author of over a dozen non-fiction books including an acclaimed round-up of conspiracy theories. He has edited and contributed to numerous international entertainment magazines and currently oversees news and reviews website

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A review by Sandra Scholes

James Franco starred in the recent movie adaptation of The Wizard of Oz while several other books and plays have concentrated on certain characters from the franchise. Wicked, for example, tells us more of the Wicked Witch of the West and what, more importantly, make her so wicked. Paul Simpson, author of A Brief Guide to C.S. Lewis and A Brief History of the Spy, takes a look back in time to the Famous Forty, the novels by L. Frank Baum and his successors which brought us the characters we have come to know and enjoy hearing about.

The first section goes into great detail on Baum's early life and influences, how he wanted to have a career as an actor, which went against his parents' wishes, a passion for writing and his several setbacks as a result of his going into business with more unscrupulous types to make money. Even though this is a brief guide, Simpson does his best to cram as much information as he can about the world of Oz in each section of which there are four with several sub-chapters in each. While the first section is on Baum's early life and career choices, the others mention Baum's writing fairy tales for his children which became published later and the collection of fifteen books in the Oz universe that were later continued by authoress Ruth Plumly Thompson.

These forty books are known as the Famous Forty and are considered The Wizard of Oz canon. Other famous modern writers have written novels on the world but none could be accurately called canon. For those who only remember the movie, whatever age they are, they will recall the characters, setting, story and quotes, even the songs. But there is so much more to Oz than many will have first thought. For those people, this book will be considered an eye-opener, especially as the original story the MGM movie was based on was far different from the movie. There have been more movies made of the story than the 1939 one starring Judy Garland and the several books and plays were created by other well-known writers is also of interest to those who recognise their names. The wealth of information in this book might well leave readers astonished at what they will discover.

Copyright © 2014 Sandra Scholes

Sandra is enjoying the sunshine at the moment and taking time out to read some good old classic sci-fi novels as well as having the time to write for; Love Romance Passion, Albedo One, Hellnotes, Diverse Japan and Active Anime.

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