With a husky voice and a gentle, dramatic manner that will call to mind the image of a patient grandfather reading to an excited gaggle of children, McDonough leisurely narrates this fantastical tale of good and evil, of choice and responsibility. In Maguire's Oz, Elphaba, better known as the Wicked Witch of the West, is not wicked; nor is she a formally schooled witch. Her mother is embarrassed and repulsed by her bright-green baby with shark's teeth and an aversion to water. At college, Elphaba experiences disapproval and rejection by her roommate, Glinda, a silly girl interested only in clothes, money, and popularity. Elphaba is a serious and inquisitive student. When she learns that the Wizard of Oz is politically corrupt and causing economic ruin, Elphaba finds a sense of purpose to her life - to stop him and to restore harmony and prosperity to the land.
A Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow, and an unknown species called a "Dorothy" appear in very small roles... The story presents Elphaba in a sympathetic and empathetic manner-readers will want her to triumph. The conclusion, however, is the same as L. Frank Baum
's. The book has both idealism and cynicism in its discussion of social, religious, educational, and political issues present in Oz, and, more pointedly, present in our world. The idealism is whimsical and engaging; the cynicism is biting.
Wicked is not an easy rereading of The Wizard of Oz
. It is for good readers who like satire, and love exceedingly imaginative and clever fantasy. Further reading
About the Author
received his Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Tufts University. His work as a consultant in creative writing for children has taken him to speaking engagements across the United States and abroad. He is a founder and codirector of Children's Literature New England, Incorporated
, a non-profit educational charity established in 1987. The author of numerous books for children, Mr. Maguire is also a contributor to Am I Blue?: Coming Out From the Silence
, a collection of short stories for gay and lesbian teenagers.