The Wizard of Oz dozens of times. I think I may have seen part of an animated version at some time as well. My mom had copies of the various Oz books around the house and I thumbed through a couple of them to look at the strange illustrations from time to time but I never bothered to actually read any of them. So I finally decided it was time to read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Going in, I knew there were going to be differences from the movie. That's to be expected. I'd been told once long ago that Dorothy's magic slippers were silver in the book and not ruby and that the choice of silver was some social commentary on the plight of the poor or something. But I was surprised at the vast number of differences as I started reading. The first difference was the fact that so little happened in Kansas before Dorothy was swept away to Oz. There's no scene of Dorothy pining for something more…for some land over the rainbow. There's no interaction with various farm hands or with a crotchety neighbor lady who especially dislikes Toto. Instead, we get a drab description of the bleak Kansas landscape and then the next thing we know, the house is being lifted away with Dorothy inside.
Once in Oz the differences from the movie just compound. It seems that MGM must have thought that the book had too many characters and adventures. In the book, Dorothy actually interacts with all 4 of the witches of Oz and through her journey she passes through a bunch of different villages and locations meeting many various inhabitants of the land.
Part of me kept anticipating moments from the movie and felt a little disappointed when they didn't happen the way I remember from my childhood. But a larger part of me really enjoyed the depth and variety in the book.
Baum has created a very unique world in the land of Oz. In the movie, we only get to know a few of the inhabitants and only superficially at that. Even though the book is fairly short, we actually get to know quite a few of the denizens of Oz and learn that this place is really very unique. The descriptions and adventures really make Oz a very compelling world. Not having read the book, I was a little skeptical that there would be enough material to warrant the ~dozen sequels. But now that I've read this first one and gotten a feel for Baum's style and creativity, I am really quite excited to read some of the other adventures of Oz and see what else he has in store.
If, like me, you or your kids haven't read the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, you should give it a try. It's a fun whimsical book that's really enjoyable.
4 out of 5 stars
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