Baum, L. Frank

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.