Monday, August 21, 2006


Gregory Maguire’s twisted novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West is set to become a modern classic thanks to the musical based on the story. Building on the one dimensional characters made famous by L. Frank Baum’s original novel and the classic movie The Wizard of Oz, Maguire develops the Land of Oz into a place of political intrigue and complicated alliances. Characters like Glinda the Good Witch, Dorothy, the Wizard and, of course, the Wicked Witch of the West are seen as complete characters with vital roles to play in the history of Oz.
Wicked is the story of Elphaba, a mysterious changeling child born with green skin and a natural aversion to water. An outcast even within her own family, Elphie begins to find her place as a young woman at Shiz University. Her friendships with Animals, Munchkins and her roommate Glinda are cut short by tragedy, however, and Elphie leaves the university and her circle of friends to go underground. Increasingly concerned with correcting the wrongs she sees in Ozian society, Elphaba is caught up in events that will eventually steal her passion and leave her a shell of her former self.
Flipping the familiar story on it’s head, Wicked presents a completely unfamiliar Oz, an Oz where Animals can be exterminated, political alliances forged by magic and trickery, and where the ultimate villain, the Wicked Witch of the West, can be a sympathetic heroine with a fine sense of honor and a true love of justice.

Maguire, Gregory. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the
West. New York: HarperCollins, 1995.

What I'm Reading: Honus & Me by Dan Gutman; The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century by Thomas L. Friedman
On My Bookshelf: An assortment of children's books, including Summerland by Michael Chabon; Victory by Susan Cooper; Hoot by Carl Hiaasen & The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place by E.L. Konigsburg.


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