Sunday, January 22, 2012

Review: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Title: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Author: L. Frank Baum
Pages: 153
Publisher: Penguin Books
How I Got This Book: Library
Rating: 4 Stars

Goodreads Summary: One of the true classics of American Literature, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz  has stirred the imagination of the young and old alike for four generations. Originally published in 1900, it was the first truly American fairy tale, as Baum crafted a wonderful out of such familiar items as a cornfield scarecrow, a mechanical woodman, and a humbug wizard who used old-fashioned hokum to express that universal theme, "There's no place like home." 

Follow the adventures of young Dorothy Gale and her dog, Toto, as their Kansas house is swept away by a cyclone and they find themselves in a strange land called Oz. Here she meets the Munchkins and joins the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion on an unforgettable journey to the Emerald City, where lives the all-powered Wizard of Oz.

My Thoughts: First off, I want to say that I really enjoyed this book and getting to know the characters in a different way, particularly Dorothy. It was interesting reading about her character as a little girl when I'm so used to thinking of her as the teenager from the movie. And I loved all of the new creatures and residents that showed up in the book that were not included in the movie, such as those gigantic beasts (forgot what they're called) and the little China people (and by China I mean the porcelain china, not the country, just so you know). The chapter with the China people was my favorite part of the book, and I wish they could have been in the movie.

With that said, I have to admit that I liked the movie better, mainly because of the Wicked Witch of the West. I was disappointed to find out that the witch did not play a very big role in the book. I was hoping to learn more of her story like I did with the other characters, but she remained a rather minor, enigmatic character.

I also like the wizard a lot more in the movie. I actually kind of disliked him in the book. I can't exactly pinpoint why, but I thought the wizard in the book came across as selfish and very cowardly with little redeeming qualities. In the movie, I was able to see the sincerity in the wizard's eyes when he apologized for tricking everyone and I saw that he looked like a very nice old man, but in the book I didn't quite believe his apologies. When he tricked the scarecrow, lion and tin man into thinking he was actually giving them what they wanted, it didn't feel to me like he really wanted to help them but like he was just unshamelessly fooling them again, resorting back to his old ways that he had just apologized for. There was also the absence of the speeches that he had given to each character in the movie, assuring the lion, tin man and scarecrow that they each had what they desired all along. He let the scarecrow go on thinking he had given him brains when he actuallly just stuffed his head with bran. I really didn't like that.

But those are the only two problems I had with the book. Otherwise, I enjoyed it quite a bit and I'm glad I finally got around to reading this classic.

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