Friday, May 29, 2009

49. The Wonderful World of Oz by L Frank Baum

Book Around the States - Kansas

I chose this book for my Kansas book even though very little of it takes place in that state. Even so, how many of you think of Oz when Kansas is mentioned?

The first thing you encounter in this edition is a long, tedious introduction by J T Barbarese, a children's literature professor. How can people claim to say that's why the author said this or this is the secret meaning behind that? I was annoyed. Plus, he did many comparisons to the 1939 movie with Judy Garland. I understand better after reading the book but I thought he dwelt too much on the movie. Having said that, it is immediately apparent after starting the actual book that the movie is very different. I wonder how I would have felt about the book if I had never seen the movie. It does color your perceptions. The characters are a little flat. Dorothy is a ten-year-old girl who wants to go home to Kansas although you never get a feeling that she is that attached to her home. I did like the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion very much. They are not cartoonish as the movie portrays them. In fact, the Scarecrow is very smart, the Tin Man very caring and the Lion is very brave. They just don't see those qualities in themselves. Maybe Baum is saying we need to recognize our abilities and accept who we are. Or maybe it's just like he said in an interview that he wanted to write a "modernized fairy tale." It seems the book was taken from stories he would tell small children while working at his store. That seems to fit as the narrative is so simple and straightforward just like it was being told to children. It's not the least bit scary (I was terrified of the Witch in the movie) and the action moves from one scene to the next very quickly. Still I found it quite charming to read; and the illustrations were great fun.

Rating: 4


  1. I didn't read this for the first time until I was in my twenties and I just fell in love with it. I've read it several times since. To me the movie is basically focused on the one chapter of the witch from the book.

    This is one movie I wish they would re-make and try to tell the story that's written in the book. I mean, I love the old Judy Garland movie, it's a classic. But it's time a the book itself was done justice in a movie, non-musical.

  2. I'm so glad you read and reviewed this!

    My grandparents gave me a Junior Illustrated Classics edition of The Wizard of Oz when I was 8. I read it and fell in love with the characters and the story. Then I read several of the sequels that had been published in the 40's or 50's because my uncle had them.

    I did not see the movie version until I was in college. By then I was so familiar with the story and characters that the movie seemed to have no connection save the title.

    I wish I could have kept my children from seeing the movie before reading the book, but I have gotten each of them to read the book, and all of them liked it better than the movie.

  3. Hmm... I would have never thought to read this having been worn out by the movie, but you make it sound worth reading.

  4. I have yet to read this story. I have a version that has the illustrations from the original illustrator. I should pull this one out and read it.

  5. Hey Framed,

    I didn't have you down for a specific date for the review - how about you just let me know when it's up and I'll link. Thanks!

  6. I just started reading this to my son. I haven't seen the movie in years, so hopefully I can keep from nitpicking what the book gets "wrong."

    And you're the second person I've seen who loved The Hunger Games in the last day or so. May have to add that to my Library Hold list.

    (No, no! Must finish books I've actually paid money for first!!!)