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Monday, September 03, 2012

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

I'm off to a really slow start on my personal reading challenge, but our trip to Aberdeen to see the Wizard of Oz park prompted me to check The Wizard of Oz out of the library and get to reading. My good friend Shawna had added this one to my list, so I had high expectations. I've always had it in my head that the Wizard was a weird little book and never really had much interest in reading it. I also assumed that the book would be better than the movie, because DUH. Well. I think this is one case where the movie inproved on the book, sorry Shawna. It was just weird.

Warning, this post contains spoilers for a 112 year old book and a 73 year old movie.

You all know the story, right? Dorothy gets swept up in a hurricane, plopped down in the land of Oz, on top of a witch with pretty shoes, and has to follow the yellow brick road to find her way home. On the way she finds a couple more witches, some really short strange people, flying monkeys, and talking animals. She then clicks the heels on her ruby slippers (silver in the book) to get back to Kansas and, in the book, wakes up to find it was all a dream. Nothing weird about that at all. (Apparently, because after brief moments of astonishment, Dorothy accepts everything as completely normal, every time.)

The book is full of very obvious moral lessons- the tin man who wants a heart is so unbearably cautious not to unthinkingly hurt someone or something because he doesn't have a heart and can't feel it if he does. The lion who wants courage is very careful to always roar and act brave because he knows he's really a scaredy cat and not very brave at all. They talk about these things endlessly. Fake it til you make it, guys!  It is very heavy handed, is what I'm saying, and for me, it was incredibly boring. There are roughly 783 more Wizard of Oz books, but until I find the time to do some wikipedia stalking of Mr. Baum, I don't think I'll be picking up another.

This may get me kicked out the book blogging community, but I find that I'm not particularly fond of  "classic" children's books. I didn't love Little Women when I reread it as an adult, and I couldn't stand Anne of Green Gables when I read her for the first time as an adult. I'm a huge fan of contemporary young adult, and I have a fondness for some of the books that were contemporary when I was a child, but the heavy handed moral stories that are now classics makes me crazy. What about you? Do the incredibly obvious lessons from classic books annoy you? Do you absolutely love The Wizard of Oz? Am I the only person on earth annoyed by Anne Shirley? Should I be terrified to pick up a Little House on the Prairie book?


  1. I read this with Vance when he was in elementary school and didn't love it either. But, I'm not a fan of the movie either. Maybe that's why I didn't like Wicked, come to think of it.

  2. I always loved the movie when I was a kid, but I think that's largely because it was so exciting to watch it ONCE A YEAR when it aired on television. And the costumes and set were so vibrant and the plot exciting and maybe a touch frightening for a kid. I never had a desire to read the book. Maybe that's okay.

  3. I have never read this one - and now I'm not sure I ever will. My book club read Anne of Green Gables a couple of years ago and most of us didn't care for it at all. Strangely, the gal who recommended it found it much less preachy than Little Women although I thought it was every bit as obvious. I still love Little Women, though!

  4. I have to admit that I love classics. I adore Little Women and have read it a few times. Although the last time I read it I was shocked about how long it was. I didn't remember it being sooo long. I love the Anne of Green Gables/Avonlea movies but haven't read the books. I do find that classic children's books are odd. I mean....I was completely baffled by Alice in Wonderland.


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