Book review: The Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz

The 1939 film The Wizard of Oz DVD Blurb

Like the Tin Man’s heart, the true test of a real classic is how much it is loved by others. The enduring charms of The Wizard of Oz have easily weathered the vicissitudes of changing fashions making the film one of the world’s best-loved, most-quoted and frequently imitated movies.

It’s now as ubiquitous an American pop-cultural icon as McDonald’s, making judging the movie purely on its own merits an almost impossible task. Judy Garland’s tragic later life, for example, makes her naïve and utterly beguiling Dorothy seem all the more poignant in retrospect. But this at least is clear: much of this movie’s success depends on the winning appeal of Garland’s “Everygirl” figure, who creates the vital identification and empathy necessary to carry the audience with her into the land of Oz. We always care deeply about Dorothy, her quest for home and the strength of her friendship with her companions. Garland’s assured dancing and singing routines with her ideally cast Broadway comedy co-stars Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr and Jack Haley are still endlessly delightful, of course, and the songs and score (by Arlen, Harburg and Stothart) are as good as anything in the Hollywood musical canon. It is Garland’s deeply felt rendition of “Over the Rainbow” that is both the film’s emotional core and the reason why adults as much as children the world over still respond so strongly to this movie. So long as people long for home and the love of their friends and family, the nostalgic appeal of Oz will never fade.

Classic musical adaptation of the L. Frank Baum novel starring Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr and Jack Haley. A tornado whisks Dorothy (Garland) and her house from Kansas to Munchkin City, squashing the Wicked Witch of the East upon landing. The Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton) vows revenge, while Dorothy sets off on the yellow brick road to see the Wizard of Oz (Frank Morgan), hoping he can tell her how to get home. On the way she makes friends with a scarecrow (Bolger), a tin man (Haley) and a cowardly lion (Lahr) – all of whom have specific reasons for wanting to meet the magical Wizard. With the Wicked Witch out to get her, will Dorothy ever get home again?

The Book


Like Robin Hood, Alice or Winnie the Pooh, Baum’s inventions – the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion, the Tin Woodman, the Wizard and the Wicked Witch of the West, as well as Dorothy and her dog Toto – have become the mythological furniture of our children’s minds, and of our own and our parents… Funny and inventive (Marina Warner Guardian )

The tales of Aesop and other fabulists…will never pass entirely away, but a welcome place remains and will easily be found for such stories as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (New York Times )

Book Description

‘There is no place like home…’

This much loved tale has enchanted generations of children and adults alike

Product Description

Dorothy Gale and her little dog Toto are in for the ride of their lives when a tornado drops them off in the Land of Oz. Can Dorothy and her new friends survive the perils of Oz to reach the Wizard and find a way home?


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

From the Back Cover

‘The road to the City of Emeralds is paved with yellow brick,’ said the Witch

When a tornado crashes through Kansas city, Dorothy and her dog Toto are whisked far away, over the rainbow, to a strange land called Oz. How will they ever get home? And what is at the end of the yellow brick road? Plucky Dorothy and Toto embark on a magical adventure to search for the Wizard of Oz and along the way encounter the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion.

This much loved tale has enchanted generations of children and adults alike.

See also: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

About the Author

L.Frank  Baum
L.Frank Baum

L. Frank Baum, born in Chittenango, NY, in 1856, began writing at the age of forty. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was the first of his fourteen full-length Oz novels, all of which are available in handsome gift editions from Books of Wonder/HarperCollins. W. W. Denslow was born in 1856. Famous for his colorful illustrations for many popular turn-of-the-century children’s books, he is best remembered as the original illustrator of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Introduction to the book by the Author


Folklore, legends, myths and fairy tales have followed childhood through the ages, for every healthy youngster has a wholesome and instinctive love for stories fantastic, marvelous and manifestly unreal. The winged fairies of Grimm and Andersen have brought more happiness to childish hearts than all other human creations.

Yet the old time fairy tale, having served for generations, may now be classed as “historical” in the children’s library; for the time has come for a series of newer “wonder tales” in which the stereotyped genie, dwarf and fairy are eliminated, together with all the horrible and blood-curdling incidents devised by their authors to point a fearsome moral to each tale. Modern education includes morality; therefore the modern child seeks only entertainment in its wonder tales and gladly dispenses with all disagreeable incident.

Having this thought in mind, the story of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” was written solely to please children of today. It aspires to being a modernized fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heartaches and nightmares are left out.

L. Frank Baum

Chicago, April, 1900.

More history here

My copy, 50p from the charity shop.
My copy, 50p from the charity shop.

My Review

***possible spoilers***

This story has been with me since I was a small child. I never realised it was a book until recently. Everyone is aware of the film with Judy Garland in it and the wonderful songlist that everyone can sing off by heart. I can’t remember if it was the flying monkeys or the wheelies in ‘The Return to Oz’ that scared my Sister or me, (second film is a bit bizarre) but I know The Wizard of Oz is a fantastic film and when I started reading the book I thought I would rediscover the magic from my childhood and add the songs myself.

However like any film adaption they sometimes stray from the book. This one has in places. Both I love, But which I prefer I don’t know. Did you know in the book the shoes are actually silver and in the film they are ‘ruby slippers’. I’m not sure if they changed this for visual effect or not.

In the book we meet Dorothy, a young orphan living with her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry in a very remote are in Kansas. Toto the dog is her only companion and one day the Uncle spots a cyclone coming and goes to secure the animals. Aunt Em goes to safety in a hole under the house and Dorothy goes to follow, losing Toto in the process she goes to find him and then finds that the house has is suddenly spinning in the air. Not knowing where the house is going Dorothy falls asleep. When she awakes she finds she’s in a strange land. Full of colour, beauty, flowers and birds. Not like Kansas at all. She is greeted by a small group of people, one being the the good Witch of the North and she explains she has killed the Wicked Witch of the East, well indirectly as her house landing on her did.

The Witch explains she needs to travel to the Emerald City to see the Great Wizard Oz. She kisses Dorothy on the head as a form of protection and leaves her to prepare for her journey. Dorothy decides to take the Wicked Witches Silver shoes as they would be more comfortable for the long journey then her own. She gets changed into a dress which is chequered blue and white and sets off with Toto. This later gives the impression that she is a good sorceress because apparently white is the sign of a good witch and blue is the sign of munchkins and also the silver shoes. Funny how even today we judge people by their appearance first, and personality second.

On this journey she meets the Scarecrow who desires the need for a brain, to be able to be clever and not be seen as a fool. then there is the tin man who wants to have a heart believing it’s the only thing that can make you happy and then the Lion. He would like courage as he’s scared of most things. As he says ‘As long as I know I am a coward I shall be unhappy’

The journey through the book takes them on many adventures a few which aren’t mentioned in the film. I’ll let you find out for yourselves. Also when hey enter the Emerald City they are mean’t to wear green glasses before they can enter the city, obviously turning everything green. Part of me believes there is a big emphasis on appearance being important, that Everyone in the City had to believe where there was a beautiful city of green emeralds when actually it wasn’t anything ordinary? In the end although she is sad to leave her new found friends Dorothy is returned home, as she said in the story ‘There’s no place like home’.

Part of me believes this book is more about teaching kids that appearance isn’t everything and we can all be strong, have courage be happy and be clever if we just believe in ourselves. The scarecrow thinks he needs brains so he won’t be taken for a fool but is actually quite clever. The Tin Man thinks he needs a heart to be happy again, but when he’s amongst his companions he doesn’t realise it was company he was missing. And the lion, believing he was a coward when actually he was quite brave. But all these characters needed ‘something’ to show for it or someone to give it them when they had it inside them all along.

I think This adventure is much stronger than the film but both are as good as each other. I recommend you read this book, it’s almost like a mini self help book for kids. It’s full of adventure, it’s full of interesting characters. Read it and let me know what you think.

an original cover?
an original cover?

One last thing, I never knew that this was part of a series.  I’m wondering because I know this story so well whether I could read the rest incase I am disappointed. I doubt I will be.

Thank you for reading



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