With all the attention on the recent movie release of “Oz The Great and Powerful,” versus the Judy Garland movie – “The Wizard of Oz,” I thought it time to re-visit the book that started it all – “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” by L. Frank Baum.
This book is such a joy. To begin with, it is written for children. It does not contain any sexual innuendo, any harsh language or toilet humor. And even though it was written over a hundred years ago, the style is simple and direct. It is not full of flowery words and preachings. The lessons contained (and their are many) are not overstated or “in your face;” rather, they are a byproduct of the story itself.
I believe most people know the general plot of “The Wizard of Oz,” so I won’t repeat it here. But did you know that our heroes have many more adventures that weren’t depicted in the original Judy Garland movie? For instance, they meet the Kalidahs – “monstrous beasts with bodies like bears and heads like tigers.” They meet the Queen of the field mice; they meet the Winkies; they meet the china people (tiny people made of china); and many more.
I loved the Judy Garland movie, but they did change some of the plot points to make them more fitting for a movie. You will be both surprised and pleased at some of the things that really happened to Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Tin man and Cowardly Lion. One difference I really appreciated is that unlike the movie, there is no hint that Dorothy’s adventure was only a dream. I remember being so disappointed by the end of the movie when they make it seem like it was all a dream. My children were too. But now you can read the book to your kids and everyone can say, “I knew it wasn’t a dream! She really did go to the land of Oz!”
The book has many humorous lines that will go over the heads of young children but will make adults laugh. For instance, when the wizard gives the scarecrow his brains, he fills the top of the Scarecrow’s head with a mixture of bran, pins and needles. Then he fastens the Scarecrow’s head back on to his body and says to him, “Hereafter you will be a great man, for I have given you a lot of bran-new brains.” Later the Tin Woodman asks the Scarecrow, “Why are those needles and pins sticking out of your head?” The Lion remarks, “That is proof that he is sharp.”
I highly recommend reading “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” out loud to your children. You will enjoy it as much as they do. Older children will enjoy reading it as well; it really is a book for all ages. I also recommend getting the “Book of Wonder,” 100th Anniversary edition. The original book was a collaboration between author L. Frank Baum and Illustrator W.W. Denslow which makes the pictures as much a part of the story as the text.
L. Frank Baum went on to write many more adventures of the Land of Oz. Interestingly, only the first book was illustrated by W.W. Denslow. Unfortunately after the success of “The Wizard of Oz,” the collaborators had a falling out. Baum’s subsequent Oz books were illustrated by John R. Neill. Here is a list of them in order. I highly recommend reading all of them!
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
The Marvelous Land of Oz
The Woggle-Bug Book
Ozma of Oz
Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz
The Road to Oz
The Emerald City of Oz
The Patchwork Girl of Oz
Tik-Tok of Oz
The Scarecrow of Oz
Rinkitink in Oz
The Lost Princess of Oz
The Tin Woodman of Oz
The Magic of Oz and Glinda of Oz
Hope you enjoyed the book review! Please comment below if you’ve read any of the Oz books by L. Frank Baum. We’d love to hear how you liked them. And if you do decide to buy an Oz book, remember to put one in your child’s giftsoc!