"Oz never did give nothin' to the Tin Man/That he didn't, didn't already have . . ."
It doesn't seem accidental that these wise lines come from a band called America.
A hundred years ago this month, a children's book by a frustrated playwright and businessman named L. Frank Baum, a native of New York state living in Chicago and trying to make it as a salesman, was first published. Called The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, it became, arguably, the quintessential American fairy tale -- albeit largely through the influence of the 1939 MGM movie version -- a satiric parable set in a Midwestern and often disconcertingly hostile fantasy world.
To celebrate this centennial, Maricopa County Library District hosts the Oz 100th Anniversary Festival. All district branches will feature Oz-oriented displays, and there will be a variety of events at branches Valleywide. Here's a run-down:
Return to Oz -- The underrated 1985 film will be shown at 1 p.m. Saturday, September 9, at Southeast Regional Library, 775 North Greenfield Road in Gilbert, after which Peter Hanff, deputy director of the Bancroft Library at UC-Berkeley, presents a lecture on the innovations in book design which began with Baum's book.
The Dreamer of Oz: The L. Frank Baum Story -- The 1990 TV film, scripted by Richard Matheson and starring John Ritter in the title role, will be shown at 1 p.m. Saturday, September 16, at Southeast Regional Library, 775 North Greenfield Road in Gilbert. It's followed by a slide presentation and lecture by Angelica Carpenter, curator of the Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children's Literature at California State University in Fresno and author of L. Frank Baum: Royal Historian of Oz.
Weather permitting, at 9 a.m. Saturday, September 23, a hot-air balloon will be tethered outside Southeast Regional Library, 775 North Greenfield Road in Gilbert, for visitors to take photographs. At 1 p.m., the great 1939 version of the film will be shown, after which Roger S. Baum, L. Frank's great-grandson, will speak and sign books. Valley resident Margaret Pellegrini, who played a Munchkin in the film, will also speak and sign photos (the photos cost $10).
The festival wraps up the following Saturday at the North Central District Regional Library, 17811 North 32nd Street (located between Bell Road and Union Hills Drive). There will be a hot-air balloon tethered there as well, starting at 9 a.m. (again, weather permitting), and a puppet-show version of The Patchwork Girl of Oz will be performed at 10:30 a.m. Margaret Pellegrini will appear at this event as well, and sign photos (again, for a $10 fee).
On hand at all events will be "Toto" Information Centers, at which Maricopa County's Animal Control Services will dispense information about cairn terriers.
Events are free, but space is limited. Call 480-539-5100 or 602-506-2957 for details.