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The Wizard of Oz {Running Press adaptation}…
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The Wizard of Oz {Running Press adaptation}

by L. Frank Baum

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Through my childhood I watched the MGM Wizard of Oz movie 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 take a literary trip into 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 ( )
3 vote theokester | Jan 31, 2013 |
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
"The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a children’s novel written by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W. W. Denslow. Originally published by the George M. Hill Company in Chicago on April 17, 1900, it has since been reprinted numerous times, most often under the name The Wizard of Oz, which is the name of both the 1902 stage play and the 1939 film version. The story chronicles the adventures of a young girl named Dorothy Gale in the Land of Oz, after being swept away from her Kansas farm home in a storm. Thanks in part to the 1939 MGM movie, it is one of the best-known stories in American popular culture and has been widely translated. Its initial success, and the success of the popular 1902 Broadway musical which Baum adapted from his original story, led to Baum’s writing thirteen more Oz books. The original book has been in the public domain in the US since 1956."

At the end of the book Wicked was a copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I had already read this by then, all the Oz books are available free for iBooks and Kindle. I’m sure for other readers also.

Although I had never seen the movie(1939 MGM) in its entirety or read the book, I knew the general story. After all “it is one of the best-known stories in American popular culture”. The book is of course different from what I had gleaned from the movie, there is of course more detail and more things happening.

SPOILER ALERT
When Dorothy asks the Wizard of Oz to send her back to Kansas he tells her: “In this country everyone must pay for everything he gets. If you wish me to use my magic power to send you home again you must do something for me first. Help me and I will help you.”

Now this may seem reasonable and fair except that the Wizard doesn’t have magic power and knows he can’t send Dorothy back! And what does he want Dorothy to do? “Kill the Wicked Witch of the West”. His reasoning is that the Wicked Witch is “tremendously Wicked–and ought to be killed.”

When Dorothy and her group find out that he is not a wizard, just a man, he insists, “I’m not a bad man, I’m a bad wizard.”

He lies, (he’s been lying for years we find out), sends out a little girl to either kill or be killed, knowing that if she kills the Witch he can’t keep up his end of the bargain but he’s not a bad man. Even if she is protected by the Good Witch’s sign on her forehead and wearing shoes that contain a powerful charm, she doesn’t know how to use the shoes and still a little girl is sent out to KILL SOMEONE! In what world is that right? In what world does a ‘good man’ do that? And then when he figures out a way to get out of Oz, he leaves Dorothy behind.

Plus, Dorothy should have really had a leash for Toto. And when Dorothy had to go see Glinda, why didn’t she just ask the flying Monkeys to take her there? She knows they can, they can’t take her to Kansas but they can take her anywhere in Oz. Then they wouldn’t have spent weeks walking and climbing over walls and breaking little china people.

For the above reasons I gave this book 2-1/2 stars instead of 3, because these things really upset me. ( )
2 vote BellaFoxx | Apr 23, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0762416289, Hardcover)

In spite of the fact that L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) is one of the most popular stories in America, relatively few people have actually read the book. It's well worth the effort! Young readers expecting rainbows, Munchkin songs, and wicked witches with burning brooms will instead find a complex country populated with mocking Hammerhead men, dainty people made out of china, and fierce monsters with heads of tigers and bodies of bears. Through the fantastic land of Oz ramble Dorothy and her trusty companions--Toto, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Lion--each seeking his or her heart's desire. Although the premise of the book and the 1939 movie is the same, the book--as so often is the case--delivers a far more subtle and intricate plot. A child's imagination will run rampant in these pages as one extraordinary creature after another leads the motley crew into strange and magical adventures. (All ages) --Emilie Coulter

(retrieved from Amazon Sat, 11 Jul 2015 09:24:29 -0400)

After a cyclone transports her to the land of Oz, Dorothy must seek out the great wizard in order to return to Kansas.

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