L. Frank Baum is sometimes called the writer of America's first fairytales. You will understand why when you read this book. Judging from the reviews the movie is currently more popular than the book, but I think the book will outlast the movie. I will reveal some plot details in this review, so if you want to be surprised, stop reading now.
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It's amazing how much detail and action Baum covers in this simply written, fairly short novel. Dorothy and Company have many more adventures here than the movie had time to cover. My favorite is their misadventure in the Dainty China Country, a section over which little girls will drool.
They also cover more ground in the land of Oz, including the South, land of the Quadlings ruled by Glinda (whose character was merged with the Witch of the North).
We find out more about Dorothy's experiences with the Witch of the West, whose character is very reminiscent of the witch of Russian folklore, Baba Yaga.
Kids who like fairy tales will enjoy this book, either to read on their own or to have read to them. Any kids who were scared by the effects in the movie should not have trouble with this book.
The version of this book that I read was published by Dover, richly illustrated by W. W. Denslow, and includes color plates. There is a bibliography at the end that describes the many other books and stories Baum wrote. I highly recommend it.
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