Saturday, January 30, 2021

This Week's Oz Short Story

Yeah, the moment I say I'm not going to do these on a regular weekly basis again for a while, I get the chance to read one! But it occurred to me that if I'm going to reread all of the Famous Forty—which I am—then I ought to include The Little Wizard Stories of Oz by L. Frank Baum in there. Since I recently wrapped up The Patchwork Girl of Oz in my reading, this seemed like a good time to also put Little Wizard Stories on my nightstand and delve into that when the opportunity arises. I started off with "The Cowardly Lion and the Hungry Tiger", and this is just comedy gold. Our titular beasts, tired of not being taken seriously, decide to go out into the Emerald City and, respectively, tear a person into sixty pieces and eat a fat baby, then run away to the forest. Of course when they come upon a lost, crying fat baby, the Hungry Tiger picks him up and comforts him while the Lion eggs him on to eat him. The Tiger is aghast! How could he do that to a lost, crying child? When the child's mother comes along to save her baby, but trips and injures herself, this time it is the Cowardly Lion who comforts the unfortunate victim while the Tiger urges him to tear her to pieces. But the Lion and Tiger escort them both home, make sure they are comfortable and cared for, and go off realizing that they are probably never going to be more fierce than their reputations. The Hungry Tiger continues to speculate as to how fat babies will taste, however.

The volume gets off to a fun start with this tale. The two animals are clearly, from the start, all bluster and no bite, and so it comes as no surprise when they do the right thing. Their continuous banter about what fat babies will taste like and how many pieces one should tear someone into just adds to the absurdity of it all.

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