The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

“Dorothy lived in the midst of the great Kansas prairies, with Uncle Henry, who was a farmer, and Aunt Em, who was the farmer’s wife.”

Whether first introduced to the book or the movie, which one of us is not familiar with the story of The Wizard of Oz?  As I child, I remember feeling dizzy as Dorothy was whirled away in the cyclone to the land of Oz; those shoes she inherited from the dead Wicked Witch of the East, just dazzled; the Scarecrow who wanted a brain, the Tin Man who wanted a heart, and the Lion who wanted courage stirred my sympathies, and I was as in awe of Oz as Dorothy and her companions, until I found out, as they did, that his persona was all a hoax.  All throughout Dorothy’s adventures with the Munchkins, the Flying Monkeys, and  the Wicked Witch of the West, I cheered for Dorothy to find a means to return safely to Uncle Henry and Aunt Em and her home in Kansas.

Dorothy meets the cowardly Lion
from the first edition
(source Wikipedia)

Re-reading this book as an adult, I admit I’ve lost the delight of the childhood experience, yet I found if I focused on the story’s simplicity, there was charm in it.  Both Dorothy and her companions were straightforward, uncomplicated personalities, trusting, honest and unquestionably sincere.  In spite of the dangers they encountered, somehow their innocence and naiveté helped them pass through their trials and realize their dreams.  While the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Lion each desire a quality that they perceive they lack, their actions in situations of danger, show that they already possess these qualities, and that they simply had to employ them, in order for them to be revealed.  Perhaps this shows that we all have special qualities within us that only rise to the surface in the face of adversity.  
All in all, I found this a short and pleasing read, a chance to travel back to a childhood favourite and revisit memories that still linger in spite of childhood left behind.

4 thoughts on “The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

  1. I'm planning to read The Wizard of Oz this year too and wonder if I will also feel that the magic is gone. I'm feeling this way about Alice Through the Looking Glass right now. What children's classic do you think you'll read next?

  2. I loved Alice in Wonderland and can still get into it, but Through the Looking Glass did not enamour me as it once did. In certain instances, it's sad to have to grow up, isn't it?

    I'm reading through the Chronicles of Narnia for my C.S. Lewis Project so I have to concentrate on that, but if I was freer to choose, I would either pick one of my favourites, which would be The Phantom Tollbooth by Norman Juster or Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson OR I would try to read books from my more obscure list like The Story of A Bad Boy by Thomas Bailey Aldrich or The Dark Frigate by Charles Hawes. At some point I'd like to work through all the Newberry Medal books but that will have to wait until I complete this year's projects!

    Do you have any favourites that you could recommend?

  3. The magic was lost for me on this one, unfortunately. There is a certain charm to it, yes, but I just wasn't as pulled into its world as I have been with other children's classics. I feel like it was made too "mellow" in order to be "safe" for children, according to Baum's definition of "child-safe." I was glad to reread it, though, to see both what I remembered and what I'd forgotten.

  4. I know what you mean. I wasn't pulled in either, but it was nice to observe. Yes, I did read that he was trying to tone it down from the Brothers Grimm fairy tales. It turned out of to be a cross between a fairy tale and children's novel which gave it a weird feel, but it was interesting.

    From your blog it sounds like the Moomins will be number one for you on this challenge!

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