How the Wizard Came to Oz

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How the Wizard Came to Oz is a 1991 children's fantasy novel, written and illustrated by Donald Abbott. A pastiche prequel to L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, it tells the story of the Wizard's arrival in Oz and subsequent first meeting with the Wicked Witch of the West and the Wicked Witch of the East. It also depicts several other events that lead up to Dorothy Gale’s arrival in the original tale. Abbott's illustrations rigorously imitate the style of W.W. Denslow, illustrator of the first edition of the original novel. How the Wizard was the first of six Oz pastiche novels which Abbott wrote in the 1990s. He also illustrated Oz tales by other authors, and new editions of Baum's own tales.

Plot summary[edit]

Note: some of the characters in the novel are not named in the text. For convenience, this summary uses the names which Baum and/or Abbott gave them in other novels.

Chapter I. The Balloon. Oscar Z. Diggs, a stage magician, is bored with his job in Bailum & Barney Circus. His boss, Sam the Ringmaster, a very jolly man, introduces to Oscar a new venture - piloting a balloon. References are made to Oscar's father Slippery Diggs (a politician who went crooked) and his ventriloquism teacher Sound-Off Simpson.

Chapter II. The Wicked Witch. High winds draw Oscar's hot air balloon into Oz's Winkie Country, whose inhabitants mistake his monogram O.Z. for a symbol of power. Morella, the Wicked Witch of the West, challenges him, but she and her wolf and bee enforcers are scared by his bluff of summoning an "invisible army" of animals through a ventriloquism trick. The Winkies hail Oscar as their savior, calling him the Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Chapter III. The Scarecrow. Oscar is ensconced as leader of the Winkie Country. Two farmers from the far-off Munchkin Country ask Oscar to adjudicate a dispute on how to size the eyes of their new Scarecrow. Oscar solves the dispute by having each man draw an eye to his own liking.

Chapter IV. The Plot. Morella travels to the Munchkin Country to visit her sister Malvonia, the Wicked Witch of the East. Malvonia tells Morella of a powerful Gillikin sorceress named Gayelette and her husband Prince Quelala, who own the Golden Cap which controls the clan of the winged monkeys. Malvonia's long-suffering maidservant Nimmie Amee is introduced.

Chapter V. The Golden Cap. Morella, traveling northward, encounters a Cowardly Lion which she scares away by hitting his nose with her umbrella handle. Arriving at the estate of Gayelette and Quelala, she steals the Golden Cap from the hiding place where the Prince put it.

Chapter VI. The Good Witch. Oscar is the beloved leader of the Winkies, but is becoming bored. Using his stage makeup, he disguises as several common citizens and mingles in the crowd. When he learns that the sun is harming the eyesight of the population, he invents green sunglasses. Meanwhile, Morella declares herself the mistress of the Winged Monkeys. The Monkey King tells her that he is bound to carry out three commands from her, and only three. Her first command to the Monkeys is to reenslave the Winkies. Oscar sees the conquerors coming, and escapes southeastward in his balloon. As her second command, Morella commands the Monkeys to destroy Oscar and his balloon. Glinda the Good, Queen of the Quadling Country, sees Oscar's peril. Although she doubts he is a real wizard, she senses that he is a good man, and conjures up a cyclone which blows the Monkeys to the northern forest. She also directs Oscar's balloon to a sparsely populated region of central Oz.

Chapter VII. The Emerald City. Oscar finds himself in a green colored land. Like the Winkies, the locals regard him as a wizard. Omby Amby, leader of the local militia, tells Oscar that no witches live in this part of Oz. Oscar directs the locals, whom he dubs "Ozites," to build a magnificent Emerald City. This new paradise first comes under threat by an incursion of Kalidahs. When the Kalidahs invade the palace and their chief threatens to eat Oscar, Amby saves the day by using his blunderbuss to fire emerald dust at the beasts, who are terribly allergic to the substance. Oscar appoints Amby to be the Royal Army of Oz.

Chapter VIII. The Silver Shoes. In Munchkinland, Malvonia tests out the Silver Shoes which she recently brought from a crooked magician (presumably Dr. Nikidik or Dr. Pipt), and discovers that they grant wishes. She plans to invade and conquer the Emerald City. With the Shoes' aid, she creates the Yellow Brick Road for this purpose, however Glinda gets word of this plan via the Great Book of Records, and creates a field of narcotic poppies to lull Malvonia's army to sleep. After retrieving her soldiers one by one with the use of a magic rope, Malvonia returns home to plot a new strategy. In the meantime, she develops a grudge against a local woodcutter named Nick Chopper, and curses him with accidents meant to cripple him permanently. However, the cleverness of the tinsmith Ku-Klip transforms the maimed man into the Tin Woodman. Angry that Chopper survived, Malvonia causes a rainstorm which rusts the Tin Woodman in place in the forest. Finally, Malvonia launches another invasion westward, but this time Glinda conjures up maneating plants to block the army's way.

Chapter IX. The Spectacles. Oscar summons a local locksmith to his office, speaking via ventriloquism so that his voice appears to come from a giant disembodied head. Oscar assigns the man to create a special set of locks and keys. When the man returns, Oscar appears as his normal self, and shows the locksmith the sunglasses he invented. He then appoints this man to be the Guardian of the Gates, and declares that all people in the Emerald City must wear the sunglasses.

Chapter X. The Witches Brew. Morella and Malvonia hold a council at the latter's home. They read a recipe obtained from their mother, who melted away in a tragic rain storm. They engineer a giant spider to attack the Wizard.

Chapter XI. The Pearls. Oscar panics upon receiving news that the Wicked Witches are marching on his city. Glinda, in the form of a dove, directs the Wizard to seek out a peddler (also Glinda in disguise) and purchase three magic pearls at a price of 100 pennies for the lot. Omby Amby tells the Wizard that the enemy has arrived.

Chapter XII. The Great and Terrible Oz. The Witches are shocked and dismayed to see the Wizard standing confidently and ready for battle, rather than quaking in fear. However, he is petrified. He urges Amby to retreat to the city, but the one-man Army steadfastly refuses to desert his Wizard, and remains by his side. Malvonia conjures up a griffin, however the Wizard destroys the magic beast with a thrown pearl. Morella sends a huge snake, made out of cloth and magically enlivened, on the attack. The Wizard's second pearl does not destroy the snake, but instead conjures a cyclone which carries the snake away, then causes it to unravel to the basic elements of its threads. Finally, the Witches let slip their giant spider. The Wizard's third pearl creates a 40-foot-tall man armed with a club. The giant man strikes the spider with his club, causing it to fly through the air and land in a forest in Quadling Country. The Witches' human servants then scatter, and the Witches flee. The giant bows to the Wizard, and fades out of his existence as his purpose is served. Omby Amby and the Ozites praise the Wizard, and the Emerald City is never attacked again during his rule. But fearing that the Witches might discover his lack of powers, Oscar secludes himself in the a palace until the arrival of Dorothy Gale years later.

Trivia[edit]

The characters Ku-Klip and Nimmie Amee are not named, due to L. Frank Baum's The Tin Woodman of Oz being still under copyright at the time How the Wizard was published. It is not indicated that Amee is in love with Nick Chopper, which was a key point in Baum's series. Chopper is simply described as "a fine young woodsman who had angered" the witch, with the tragic romantic angle unspecified.

The names Nick Chopper, Omby Amby, and Bailum & Barney Circus are not used, even though the Baum volumes in which these names were coined had already passed into the public domain.

In Baum's stories and this novel, the Wicked Witches were unnamed. In his later writings, Abbott dubbed the Wicked Witch of the West "Morella" and her Eastern sister "Malvonia".

The notion that the Wicked Witches are sisters was never stated by any Baum story, although his series indicated that the two had cooperated to conquer Oz in the dark past. The 1939 film of The Wizard of Oz originated the "sisters" notion, which has been widely accepted by popular culture ever since.

Glinda's peddler disguise resembles the Good Witch of the North from W.W. Denslow's original illustrations. Most theatrical productions of The Wizard of Oz (starting with the 1939 movie) conflate the two Good Witches into one character.

Ku-Klup's likeness appears to be a caricature of Denslow himself.

See also[edit]

  • Oz the Great and Powerful, an unaffiliated film based on the same story suggestions from Baum's writing.


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