What I Am Reading: American Fairy Tales

Right now I am rereading American Fairy Tales by L. Frank Baum. It’s an intriguing collection of stories that he published in 1901, the year after after The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published.

What I find most interesting about this collection of tales is that it’s not any one kind of story, but all feel like fairy tales. Some are pastoral and focus on the natural world, but others are set in well-appointed homes in cities like Chicago around 1900. These aren’t “once upon a time in a land far, far away” kinds of stories. These are all definitely set in the United States and most not that long ago!

I also appreciate that some contain obvious magic, but others do not. Baum clearly understood that fairy tales don’t require magic, but they do require balance and often slightly wondrous things. I also appreciate that Baum saw the cities and their inhabitants as every bit as American as the wild prairies and northern forests.

I’m enjoying rereading this collection and looking forward to rediscovering some of it’s largely forgotten gems!

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