Review: “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” by L. Frank Baum [1900]

We’re off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz! Because, because, because, because …

No, that wasn’t in the book but they are the lyrics of the wonderful and catchy songs featured in the 1939 MGM classic movie of the same name. L. Frank Baum’s original book varies somewhat to the version most of us know and love. One of the significant difference is that Dorothy doesn’t wear the ruby slipper because they are actually silver in Baum’s version.

The story begins in Kansas where Dorothy, a young orphan, lives on a dry and desolate farm with her Uncle Henry and Aunt Em. There is nobody else for miles and the landscape and its people are tired and grey. A cyclone suddenly sweeps through the farm one day and Dorothy, who had run back into the house to find Toto, her dog, finds herself and the house transported to the land of Oz by the cyclone.

In Oz, Dorothy discovers that she is in the Munchkin land, which is filled with colour and beauty in contrast to her home back in Kansas. There, she meets the Good Witch of the North who congratulates her for killing the Wicked Witch of the East by landing her house on top of the witch. Needless to say, the young Dorothy is horrified and asks the good Witch how she can get home to Kansas.

‘The road to City of Emeralds is paved with yellow brick … so you cannot miss it. When you get to Oz do not be afraid of him, but tell your story and ask him to help you.’ – p. 25

And so Dorothy sets off along the yellow brick road and during her journey, she meets the Scarecrow, who desires a brain, the Tin Woodman, who desires a heart, and the Cowardly Lion, who desires courage. During their journey to the Emerald City, the three characters unknowingly display their desired traits without the need for the wizard’s magic.

Since this is already a well known story, there’s nothing much else to add. Undoubtedly, the book is more in-depth than the movie but also rather more philosophical about human nature and inner strength. We would like more courage, brains and heart and if only we looked a little deeper within ourselves, we would discover that we already possess them and do not need a wizard’s magic.

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8 comments

    1. Have you read the entire series? I just discovered there are about 8-9 books in the series! It all sounds very intriguing particularly Ozma. I only know about her from the movie ‘Return to Oz’ which I found frightening scary!

    1. Me too! It’s gorgeous. I found Return to Oz on youtube recently and was so excited. I spent a few years looking for it. It’s still pretty scary!

  1. I read this to my daughters a few years ago and we loved it. I think the descriptions of the desolation of the Kansas landscape in the book are very good and the film doesn’t necessarily convey that. Love that cover!

    1. I spent quite awhile hunting down the correct version. I kept getting abridged or adapted versions of the story. I think the film didn’t too bad a job on portraying the desolate grey Kansas landscape since it was in black and white.

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