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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Aunt Jane's Nieces on Vacation

Well, with Christmas happening and all the work that leads up to it I fell a little behind in the reading department. I am happy to say that I have finished another one of the Aunt Jane's Nieces books. This series has been one of the best non-Oz Baum books I have read. I will admit that right now I believe it is the only whole series of non-Oz books by Baum I have so in time that opinion may change.

Anyway, this charming book was written in 1912 and the girls start a small newspaper while summering in Milville where, in an episode directly from Baum's own experiences as editor and publisher for the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer, a simple typographical error leads to a pistol duel between the offended party and the hapless editor with comic results. This Baum scene can be viewed in the television movie "Dreamer Of Oz" starring John Ritter which right now is available in the "70th Anniversary Box Set of Wizard Of Oz".

Anyhow this book introduces us to two new character's in the series a Ms. Hetty Hewitt who is a New York City resident and newspaper artist who is brought to Melville by Uncle John's banker to do the art work for the paper. Ms. Hewitt is somewhat of a Bohemian who is sent there in essence "to detox" as we would say today. Also a Mr. Thursday Smith who suffers from amnesia for the last two years after a severe bump on the head and is trying to figure out who he is.

The amnesia theme seems to be a popular one with Baum-- a man not knowing his background, who he was and so on, but there it is fresh and new with a brand new mystery to solve with a very surprising twist ending which I do not want to give away.

There is also some trouble in Milville over at the new Paper Mill as well and the roughnecks who work there which develop into one of the most "violent" stories I have read by Baum in a long while. Again not wanting to give it away it does involve a gun shot and a drunken hooligan!

The book continues with Uncle John, Beth De Graf, Patsy Doyle Louise Merrick Wheldon and her husband Arthur Wheldon. Charming dialogue, country bumpkins and all kind of fun ensues.

The book as I mentioned was written in 1912 and Baum had originally written the book as "Aunt Jane's Nieces: Journalists" or "Aunt Jane's Nieces in Journalism", and was somewhat chagrined to learn the publisher had instead typeset the book as "on Vacation", a change he felt was not only inane but ungrammatical". The publisher was apologetic but reaffirmed the decision, adding that "the word journalist is a mouthful for a youngster, especially a girl", a contention no doubt further irked Baum, a staunch feminist and an author who made a career not talking down to children.

Published once again by Reilly & Britton Company of Chicago this book was illustrated by E. A. Nelson. Only two illustrations again just like the others, one being the cover the other being the inside illustration. The book measures 7 13/16 x 5 1/2 and is 305 pages in length and originally sold for sixty-five cents! My Edition happens to be a First Edition First printing based on information found in "The Book Collector's Guide to L. Frank Baum and Oz" found on page 323.

Well with two books in this wonderful series left I hope I have encouraged you to look for these non-Oz Baum books of course under the pen name "Edith Van Dyne" and to read them for your self they are a very worthwhile addition to any collection of books! Good luck hunting and enjoy reading!

1 comment:

Maroussia said...

It will be great to watch The Wizard Of Oz, i have bought tickets from looking forward to it.