Book Review: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum



Paperback, Collins Classics, 178 pages
Published 2010 by HarperCollins (first published 1900)


Greetings Brave Adventurers,

I’m a big fan of ‘reading the book’ before ‘seeing the movie’ (even though it often makes watching the movie an incredibly painful experience), but in the case of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, I grew up on the 1939 Judy Garland film adaptation, never having read the book.

When I decided to purchase the DVD version of The Wizard of Oz for my kids, it came with a copy of the original book, and I thought it was time to put my ignorance of the original material to bed, and read L. Frank Baum’s ‘modern day fairytale’.

It’s a short read, intended for children, and supposed to be written ‘with the unpleasant elements toned down to suit American sensibilities’ (but a bit more on this later).

So, what did I think of the book?

It’s impossible to review this book without reference to the movie (for me anyway). So often, movies get it wrong, but in the case of The Wizard of Oz, Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer got it oh-so right, expanding the story in just the right places, and cutting down on scenes where the book tends to wander. For instance, in the book, Dorothy finds herself flying through the air within a matter of paragraphs, all of that beautiful conflict with Miss Gulch a work of the screenwriters. Similarly, the book includes a journey through the land of ‘Dainty China Country’, encounters with the witches of both South and North, an adventure down a river, and a meeting with the mouse-queen, all of which added little to the forward momentum of the overall story. While the movie adds scenes of tension and fear (The Wicked Witch of the West turning up every few scenes to scare the little band of heroes along), the book had some very unmitigated violence. The tinman hacked the heads off a number of animals, which although stated matter-of-factly, made for a gruesome picture in your mind.

All in all, I enjoyed The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and would definitely read some of the sequels. For a book originally published in May 1900, this is a remarkably easy read. The story is enjoyable, and the characters are just as they are in the movie, flawed, but ultimately good and very likeable.

I’m giving this book 7/10 timeless dragons

7 dragons




5 things you might not know about The Wizard of Oz, if you’ve only seen the movie.

  1. The Wicked Witch’s shoes that Dorothy inherits are silver, not ruby.
  2. The tin man was once a real man – he was hacked apart, piece by piece by his enchanted ax, each part being replaced by a tinsmith. This is why he so desperately wants a heart – he was to be married the woman he loved, and when his heart was destroyed, he could no longer love her.
  3. The Winged Monkeys are controlled by a magic hat that can only be used three times. After the Wicked Witch of the West’s death, Dorothy gets control of the monkeys!
  4. Although the characters never say, ‘Lions and Tigers and Bears! Oh My!’ they do encounter the Kalidahs, monsterous beasts with bodies like bears and heads like tigers.
  5. To enter the Emerald City, you must wear green glasses at all times.
  6. Glinda is actually the witch of the South, and rules over the Quadlings.

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