The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Oz #1) by L. Frank Baum – Book Review

Blurb from Goodreads

Follow the yellow brick road!

Dorothy thinks she is lost forever when a terrifying tornado crashes through Kansas and whisks her and her dog, Toto, far away to the magical land of Oz.

To get home Dorothy must follow the yellow brick road to the Emerald City and find the wonderfully mysterious Wizard of Oz.

Together with her companions the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion whom she meets on the way, Dorothy embarks on a strange and enchanting adventure.

My Review

So I was rewatching Return to Oz (the 1985 film) for the bazillionth time the other night and thought to myself, hmm. I like Return to Oz. It’s all dark and twisty. LOVE the 80s special effects and puppetry stuff… but I HATE the 1939 The Wizard of Oz film with Judy Garland…

I know…

Y’all are shocked because I’m never one to have an unpopular opinion…. LOLJK OBVS!

But in reading up on my twisty 1980s (pseudo)sequel film I saw that it’s supposed to be in keeping with the spirit of the original Frank L. Baum books more than the musical technicolour super perky Judy Garland extravaganza…. (I can neither confirm nor deny reports that my research was purely limited to Wikipedia) …

But anywho, I went on to my library’s eCatalogue and boom, downloaded the original first book to read.

And it’s not terrible!….
I know, don’t go overboard with that praise Emer lol!

Okay so it’s quite simple in structure because it is a child’s story but it’s definitely got more bite than the technicolour headache-inducing film. I mean the background story to how the Woodman became a tinman is RATHER vivid…. basically a magic axe kept lopping off bits of an actual human male, and eventually he became completely tin as more and more parts of his body had to be replaced. It was so casual how his beheading was described. I literally LOLd!

And then later when Dorothy, the Scarecrow, Woodman, and Lion are sent off to kill the Wicked Witch of the West… WOW THE VIOLENCE OF SOME OF THE IMAGERY! Dorothy’s new friends are a little sociopathic because not one moment of remorse is there for the beheading of wolves and piling up their bodies, twisting the necks of crows… I was so not expecting that type of visual. I mean it’s not in the least bit graphic but it kind of reminds this old fart reader that children do like fairly gruesome stuff. The kid version of me loved her ghost stories and had a particular penchant for Point Horror novels that I used to try to copy for my school essays…. whereas adult me, not so comfy with the squeamish stuff!

Ooh and there’s one passage from the book that had me dying. DYING I TELL YOU!

”To think of your striking a stuffed man, like the poor Scarecrow!”

“Is he stuffed?” asked the Lion in surprise, as he watched her pick up the Scarecrow and set him upon his feet, while she patted him into shape again.

“Of course he’s stuffed,” replied Dorothy, who was still angry.

“That’s why he went over so easily,” remarked the Lion. “It astonished me to see him whirl around so. Is the other one stuffed also?”

“No,” said Dorothy, “he’s made of tin.” And she helped the Woodman up again.

“That’s why he nearly blunted my claws,” said the Lion. “When they scratched against the tin it made a cold shiver run down my back. What is that little animal you are so tender of?”

“He is my dog, Toto,” answered Dorothy.

“Is he made of tin, or stuffed?” asked the Lion

Neither. He’s a—a—a meat dog,” said the girl.

A MEAT DOG

I DIE

Is it just me who finds that hilarious? I just kept picturing a hot dog. Like an actual frankfurter sausage, not the dachshund breed.
Could Dorothy not have said flesh and blood… it’s a little less… well it’s just not as food-y!!

And omg…. THERE ARE NO SUCH THINGS AS RUBY SLIPPERS!!!!

THIS HATH SHOOKETH ME TO MY CORE!

The ruby slippers are just so iconic and apparently they’re just a big old MGM invention as in the book the slippers are silver. Also Dorothy doesn’t say the immortal words “there’s no place like home”… that felt strange. It’s weird isn’t it, how a film can be so ingrained in our collective consciousness…

But anyway, I certainly prefer the book to the film. It’s got more of a darker edge. Like don’t get me wrong, it’s still all shiny and happy essentially but I really hated the technicolour positivity of the original… always annoyed me as a child and that annoyance hasn’t left me in my adulthood. I blame that film for being the reason I never wanted to read Harry Potter because hello, another wizard! Couldn’t be dealing with another wizard! Glad I didn’t now though because JKR is such a TERF!

But back to this actual book.

It’s got a wider variety of characters, Dorothy is far more kick-ass; sure she’s a spechul snowflake but she’s a spechul snowflake who kills witches and never feels bad about their deaths! YOU ROCK DOROTHY! And the book has got a lot more tension than the film I believe. I’m actually super curious to read the rest of the books in the series now. Especially because my beloved Return to Oz is supposedly based on books 2 and 3 I believe. And I’d really like to meet the book version of Jack Pumpkinhead and Tik-Tok.

So yup. Liked this. Prose is very basic but I really appreciate the imagination behind it and it’s got a great adventure plot with quirky characters so what’s not to like!

24 thoughts on “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Oz #1) by L. Frank Baum – Book Review

  1. I liked Wizard Of Oz as a kid, but after hearing what they did to Judy, it’s impossible for me to watch now. The book, I didn’t like either. I found it was a lot of walking, new obstacle, walking, new obstacle, walking, new obstacle… I was very bored.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh this is another of those things that everyone but Emer knows about isn’t it. No clue what happened to Judy during the filming. Oops 🙊
      I get what you’re saying about the book. It had a lot of exposition for sure, but I liked the quirky charm of the plot so give it props for that 😊😊🧡💙💚

      Like

  2. Return to Oz TERRIFIED me as a kid, I still can’t watch it how. The Wheelers are the stuff of nightmares. I’m intrigued about reading a Wizard of Oz that’s as dark as that though, I’m an adult now so I can handle it … maybe 😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s still pretty chilling as an adult! Lol! I love the 80s puppetry though. The dark magic. Makes me think of other films like Labyrinth, never ending story etc.
      The book is certainly dark if you’re a kid but it’s still perfectly fine because good wins out, friendship is celebrated… it’s a fab little story really 😊😊😊💚😅

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Unrelated to this book really, but I just love your blog. Your personality really shines through in everything you write and I really admire that. You genuinely make me laugh out loud a lot 🙂
    I feel like I must have read the Wizard of Oz a very long time ago (or maybe the story is just so well known that I only think I did) but I’m very tempted to read it now!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw thank you so much Angela. That is very kind of you to say. ❤️💛💙💜💚🧡💖
      I had that same feeling about the wizard of oz. i was sure there would be nothing new in the book for me to enjoy…and then it turns out to be better than the film yippee ☺️☺️☺️😅😅😅💝💝💝

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great review! I haven’t read this one in quite a while–well, I’ve technically never read it, but one of my classes in elementary school had it read to us, and I remember liking it a lot then. There’s also a beautiful ballet adaptation that my mom and I saw about a year ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have always wanted to see a ballet in person! I’ve watched a number on tv and am enchanted by them… I was a ballerina as a child…for about two weeks until we all realised I can’t dance AT ALL 😂😂😂 Thanks so much Madeline 💖❤️💛💚💝

      Liked by 1 person

        1. LMAO What are we like 😅😅😅 I did the same with Irish dancing lessons… lasted a bit longer with that one but still ultimately quit it when I realised how much I sucked 😂😂😂

          OOOH I’ve always wanted to see the nutcracker at Christmas. Not jealous at all I swear…………. 🙈🙈🙈😂😂😂😂

          Liked by 1 person

  5. How do I not remember that part about THE MEAT DOG? 🤔😂😂 I read The Wizard of Oz quite a while ago and it never really stuck with me, but that does seem like something worth recalling… Pure gold! 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So interesting, Emer. I’ve never read the book. I saw the movie when I was about twelve and I, also, got a headache. Too bad about the ruby shoes – I love them. My daughter has a doorstop of two little red slippers sticking out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s definitely well worth a read Elizabeth! Just to see where the inspiration came from. I found it completely fascinating to discover that the ruby slippers were a Hollywood invention. They are so iconic now! ☺️☺️

      Like

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