Finding Oz: How L. Frank Baum Discovered the Great American Story by Evan I. Schwartz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Interesting, but slightly disappointing look at the life of L. Frank Baum. Interesting because we do learn a lot about how Baum's life of success and failure turned around with the publication of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and how his experiences were transformed in the book (example? the yellow brick road was likely inspired by the yellow brick road leading to the Peekskill Military Academy). I knew even less about his wife, Maud Gage, and her really impressive mother, Mathilda Josyln Gage, a feminist who should be as well known as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
The disappointing part was the writing, which often devolved into "we assume...", "it's likely that...", "he might have..." statements. The Oz era was also glossed over as we rushed from publication of the first book to Baum's death. For those of us who read more than just the Wizard, where his inspirations for places like Ev and characters like Jinjur came from would also be interesting. The importance of chickens is mentioned, but not Billina?