WWRW: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz & More


Linking up with Jessica and her beautiful baby today!


Sometimes our family has an audiobook going in the car and another chapter book going at home on the couch.  But with a little one underfoot at home and less driving all over town during the summer, it can take us a long time to get through two books that way.  When we’re really enjoying a book, we like to listen to it on CD or the Hoopla app in the car and then continue on with the paperback on the couch (or stretched out on the trampoline) in the evening.  We did this with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and The Secret Garden this month.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Oz, #1)I loved the old Judy Garland film as a kid but had never read the book before.  I didn’t like the book that much, but the kids LOVED it and got irritated at everything the film left out.  The big difference is that Dorothy’s journey is not a dream in the book.  And her three friends actually believe Oz grants them brains, a heart, and courage, although he’s just as much of a sham in the book as in the movie.

Our paperback copy claimed to be “complete and unabridged,” but it is actually lacking the author’s introduction that we heard in the audio.  In the intro (which is short and can be read here), L. Frank Baum basically says that since modern public schools now teach kids all they need to know about morality, fairy tales no longer need morals and can be produced purely for entertainment.  Okay!

The problem with stories without any kind of moral is that they often don’t have any kind of point, either.  Everything in this story seems pretty random.  The good Dorothy accomplishes (getting rid of the wicked witches) happens by accident.  She doesn’t seem to have learned any lessons or grown on her journey.

The Wizard of Oz (1939) PosterThe film improved on the book, in my opinion, by taking the word “wonderful” out of the title (since he isn’t), by introducing a simple moral (don’t run away from home!) and by adding just those things Mr. Baum wanted to do away with: “the stereotyped genie, dwarf, or fairy” and some “horrible, blood-curdling incidents.”  The Wicked Witch is a lot more scary in the film!

But, for pure entertainment, Baum’s idea seems to have worked.  The kids have picked up the book many times since we finished reading it and have asked to listen to parts of the audio again and again.  Baum also went on to write more than 20 Oz sequels!

It’s getting late, so I think I’ll tackle The Secret Garden next week.  But, I did write a review of a grown-up book, My Life in Middlemarch, by Rebecca Mead, earlier this week for Blogging for Books.  You can read that here.