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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

A fantasy book for children

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An American Fairy Tale

  • Jul 8, 2012
Like most Americans who were raised between the late 1960s-the early 1990s, I looked forward to the annual event of watching THE WIZARD OF OZ on broadcast television. Every year it was shown and it was something I looked forward to seeing each year. Until I was in fifth grade, my only exposure to L. Frank Baum's classic American fairy tale was watching the movie each year on tv. In fifth grade, I read the THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ for the first time and discovered that though the movie was similar in some aspects, it was radically different in others.

The premise is the same as the classic film, young Dorothy is transported from her home in Kansas to a magical world called Oz. First she accidently kills a witch and meets the Munchkins. She just wants to get home and she's told that maybe the Wizard of Oz can help her. So, she sets down the yellow brick road to find the Emerald City and meet this great and powerful wizard. Along the way she's joined by a Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman, and a somewhat cowardly Lion. The Wicked Witch of the West doesn't really want Dorothy dead, but just wants her captured. There are also a bunch of winged monkeys who have to serve the Witch of the West.

However, though the elements are all there, the story is actually quite different from the famed 1939 movie. For instance, unlike the movie, Dorothy really is transported to Oz in a tornado. It's not all just a dream. Or, take the Emerald City, it's not so much green because of all the jewels and actual green color, but more-so because of the green glasses anyone in the city must wear. And the flying monkeys, they only serve the Witch of the West because she is the person who controls a magic cap.

Like what often happens with film adaptations, I found the book to be a much better overall story than the famous movie version it's based upon. Though there are some frightening moments in the movie THE WIZARD OF OZ, the original story is much more dark and frightening. Baum had said he wanted to write a truly American fairy tale and THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ is that. For instance, there are some creatures that actually die in the story and at one point Dorothy is turned into a slave. Many people complain about the Dainty China Country section doesn't fit with the rest of the story. While this part of the book is slightly different in tone and mood, I never found it to be offsetting. Dorothy's journey to the Emerald City and then to Glinda weren't completely straightforward so there are all kinds of side journeys she and her companions could take.

Originally written for children and conceived as a one-part story, Baum had no idea how much fame, fortune, and success would result from the book. Since the story was so successful, the publisher asked for more Oz books and Baum complied and complied and complied. Sometimes he complied because he needed some more cash. In total, he wrote 14 Oz books. Being the first, THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ is one of the best. It really is an American fairy tale.

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More The Wonderful Wizard of Oz reviews
review by . June 15, 2010
This book pulls you into a world of fantasy, a Wonderful World!  It begins in dreary Kansas and takes you to enchantment.  Vivid colors, rainbows and an Emerald City.  Trees talk, scarecrow and tin man come to life.  Good witches and bad, flying moneys, wizard, munchkins.   And it's not just for kids.     As an adult I am entirely drawn in to OZ, and the Baum imagination.  How did he ever come up with all the fascinating  and complex ideas? …
review by . May 19, 2010
 Having seen the film many times I was excited to read this book, and I wasn’t let down. Dorothy is taken in her house to the Land of Oz in a cyclone and there she meets some great characters: the Tinman, the Scarecrow and the Lion. With her friends and Toto in tow, she embarks on many adventures to get to see the Wizard of Oz. This is a very well written book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The book is full of the adventures you expect, including killing the witches and the Queen Mouse. …
Quick Tip by . August 11, 2010
i liked the book way better than the movie. it is really well written and interesting.
Quick Tip by . August 08, 2010
L. Frank Baum's book was originally a story or metaphor about the economic climate of his day. What do you think that means for its quality as a narrative?
Quick Tip by . July 05, 2010
One of a series of books written by Baum aboput a fictional land "over the rainbow". This story tells about the heroine, Dorothy, trying to gt ansrs about why she is in this new land. She gets clues from several witches and aa wizard. well written as a children's book easy to follow and understand
Quick Tip by . July 02, 2010
It shouldn't be as cute as it is. Glad to see it as it truly was because the film was radically different.
Quick Tip by . July 05, 2010
Quick Tip by . July 03, 2010
better than the movie . . . I LOVED all of these books as a child!
Quick Tip by . July 02, 2010
Old-school classic fantasy.
Quick Tip by . June 28, 2010
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Ranked #38
I like to read and watch movies.
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About this book



Author: L. (Lyman) Frank Baum
Genre: Children's Books, American Fairy Tales, Fantasy
Date Published: 1900

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