1. L. (for “Lyman”) Frank Baum first took readers to the marvelous land of Oz in 1900, via The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  (And I am quite thankful that he did so.)

2.  Oz is divided into 5 major regions: The Emerald City in the center and the lands of the Winkies (to the west),  the Munchkins (to the east), the Quadlings (to the south) and the Gillikins (to the north).

3.  Each of these major regions has its official color: Green for the Emerald City, yellow for the Winkies, blue for the Munchkins, red for the Quadlings and purple for the Gillikins.  (Monochromatism.  It’s the next big thing.)

4.  The concept of Death is a bit problematic in the land of Oz; after several books, Baum stated that no one could ever die in Oz, although several characters (most notably, The Wicked Witches of the East and West, in the first book) had.  Baum explained that although a being might be chopped into bits or melted or otherwise destroyed, the being was still alive – a confusing little theory.  (Not to mention a bit unsettling!)

5.  Getting to Oz from the outside world is difficult, as it is totally surrounded by a deadly desert, the sands of which can destroy anything they touch.  In addition, an invisible barrier also surrounds the land.  Most often, individuals find themselves in Oz either through flying into it or burrowing underground to get into it – or by using a magic carpet that unrolls itself across the desert and is impervious to the effects of the destructives sands.  (Available at ABC Carpets in a variety of styles and textures.)

6.  Everyone knows that Dorothy Gale went to Oz and then came back to the real world.  But she also went back to Oz several times and eventually moved there to live, taking Aunt Em and Uncle Henry with her.  (What!  Go to a fairytale land and leave my foreclosed farm on the dusty prairie!)

7.  All animals can talk in Oz, including animals that were not born there.  Late in the series, Baum had Dorothy’s dog Toto start talking, explaining basically that he had continued to bark and not talk heretofore simply because he hadn’t really had anything to say.  (Take that, all you chatty animals who talk without saying anything worthwhile!)

8.  Living things don’t age in Oz either, which has its advantages and disadvantages: Great if you’re a strapping youth, not so wonderful if you are a baby who will never be anything but a baby (or the parent of said baby, if said baby happens to be on the colicky side.)

9.  One of the Cowardly Lion’s friends is the Hungry Tiger, so called because he has a very particular fondness for eating nice, plump, juicy babies but, because he has a conscience and knows it would be wrong to eat nice, plump, juicy babies, he refrains from doing so and remains hungry.  (Since nothing ever dies in Oz, it does raise the question of what happens to the animals devoured as meals by carnivores, including any human meat eaters.)

10.  Although other words have been used to describe a resident of Oz, Baum’s term of choice was “Ozite.”

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