Title: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Series: Oz #1
Author: L. Frank Baum
Genre: All Time Classic Children’s Fiction, Fantasy, Adventure
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.
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…
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
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 even though the 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!