The Wonderful Wizard of Oz with the Original Text and Illustrations

Feb 11, 2011 (Updated Feb 19, 2011)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Great illustrations, wonderful adventure story, better than the movie.

Cons:Really young children may not accept the differences between the book and movie.

The Bottom Line: "Brains are the only things worth having in this world, no matter whether one is a crow or a man." - Quote from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

For years I've been meaning to read the original story that the movie The Wizard of Oz was based upon. So, when I spotted The Wonderful Wizard of Oz at my local library on a recent trip, I decided to pick it up. There are many different book versions of this story, but this edition has the original text, with the orignial illustrations done by W. W. Denslow, and that's the one I wanted to read.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is just the first of many volumes on Oz, by Baum and - later - other authors. 

Just Like in the Movie
This is the story of young Dorothy Gale who lives in the gray land of Kansas with her aunt and uncle. One day a tornado hits and Dorothy doesn't make it to the storm cellar in time and is swept away - along with her house and her little dog Toto - to a marvellous land of Munchkins and witches both wicked and good. From the time she arrives, the only thing she wants to do is get back home, but she'll have to go on a dangerous journey to get there. Eventually, she succeeds. The overall message of the book is that you are better (stronger, braver, kinder, etc.) than you think. 

Unlike the Movie

There is just so much more to this book than there was to the movie. A lot of the basic ideas are there, but there are many more adventures, and a lot more feeling, I thought. The time frame in the book seems to be much longer than in the movie, and Dorothy's quest is more complicated. The friendships between the characters are deeper and more complicated. Dorothy's realization in the movie that home is special doesn't happen in the book. In the book, she knows from the very beginning how much her home and family meant to her, and I liked that. I always found the "There's no place like home" message a little sticky sweet in the movie, and it wasn't in the book.

One other major difference between this book and the movie is that the Wicked Witch of the West is much scarier in the movie than in the book. In the movie her part is much bigger than in the book. She's really only a small part of the book, which I really liked. Overall, the book was more humorous and less scary than the movie, I thought.

The Illustrations
I really like the illustrations in this book. Yeah, they're a little old-fashioned, but they have a lot of character and humor to them, and there are a lot of them. I also liked how the color scheme of the illustrations changed depending on the part of the book. Blue for the home of the Munchkins, Green for the City of Emeralds, etc. There are illustrations on most pages, plus some separate full page illustrations. 

Appropriate for Who?
Adults will definitely appreciate this book. There's really a lot to get from reading this "children's" story. However, because of the illustrations on almost every page, and the fast pace, this is an easy story to read to younger children and will probably hold their interest. The chapters are short, so even though the book is nearly 300 pages long, it's easy to break it down into smaller portions to read to a less patient child. A child with a solid 3rd grade reading level can read this book on his own. 

The only children I would hesitate to read this to are those who may not be willing to accept the differences between the book and the movie. If you have this kind of kid, you know it.

Final Thoughts
I'm really glad I finally got around to reading this book. I'm looking forward to reading more of this series.

More Oz
The Marvelous Land of Oz 
Ozma of Oz    
Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz   
Tin Man 

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