While I was laid up in hospital a couple of weeks ago for my hernia operation, I decided I would read a children’s book that I had never looked at before. So my Kindle was happy to add the 15 Oz novels by L. Frank Baum to their library, and I had a look at the first one, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz over the course of a day in the hospital.
I grew up with the film, as everyone did, so I was curious to see how the film and novel differed, and besides the musical numbers, there are a lot of differences here, but you can see how the film evolved from the book.
Young Dorothy lives in a one room farm-house, in the gray countryside of Kansas, with her Uncle, Aunt, and her little black dog, Toto. When a tornado strikes, she isn’t able to join her Aunt in the dirt storm cellar, and her Uncle has gone to secure the barn. The house is lifted up into the center of the storm, and set down in the colorful world of Oz, atop the Wicked Witch of the East, whose shoes are silver, not ruby.
The munchkins advise her that she should journey to the City of Emeralds and seek the counsel of the Wizard of Oz, so she sets off, and along the way she meets Scarecrow (who has only been hanging on the post for the day), the Tinman (who relates the love story that got him in his present circumstances, and the revelation that his ax, enchanted by the Wicked Witch, was what cut through him, repeatedly, until he was entirely made of tin) and the Lion (who of course believes he is a coward).
The group set off to see Oz together, chased by terrifying creatures, aided by others, and it definitely does not happen as quickly as in the film, this is a journey of days…
Once they reach Emerald City, they don spectacles, which are locked in place, to keep them from going blind from the glare of precious stones, and one by one, they have an audience with Oz. Who insists that to get the gifts they wish, they must first, kill the Wicked Witch of the West.
Agreeing, they travel west, but Tinman and Scarecrow are lost along the way, and presumed dead, thanks to an attack by the flying monkeys, and both Dorothy and Lion end up prisoners, again, for days, while the Witch schemes to get the silver shoes from the little girl, who is unaware of the power that they contain.
The Witch is once again destroyed with a bucket of water by Dorothy, the Tinman and Scarecrow are recovered and our heroes return to the Emerald City, to claim the prizes which we knew they already had, except for Dorothy who must journey to see Glinda the Good Witch, in a distant land, and from there finds her way home.
This was an enjoyable read, a quick one, and I personally loved the differences between the film and book, which actually makes me look forward to reading the other books in the series now, so expect those to pop up.
They are entertaining, the chapters are short, and I can’t believe I had never read this series before…
Still never too late.
Have you read them?