Friday, July 04, 2014

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (ebook)

Note:  This is a review that I originally posted on Epinions

Warning:  I’m going to give away minor plot details.  Those that have seen the movie shouldn’t be surprised.  I would imagine that most people know the basic story by now.  You’ve been warned.

I remember seeing The Wizard of Oz (the movie) on television growing up.  It’s one of those movies that everyone has at least heard of.  What you may not realize is that the movie was based on a book called The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.  From what I understand, the book was intended to be a single story, but it was so popular that Baum wrote several more books.  After his death, other authors continued the story.

In this book, we have the same basic set of main characters.  Dorothy Gale is a girl who lives on a bleak farm with her Aunt Em and Uncle Henry.  One day, a tornado picks up the house with Dorothy and Toto inside and deposit them in Oz.  The House lands on the Wicked Witch of the East, killing her and thus freeing the Munchkins.  She’s told by the Good Which of the North (Glinda in the movie) to seek out Oz, who should be able to send her home.  She picks up the Wicked Witch’s silver slippers.  Along the way, she meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman and the Cowardly Lion.  Each wants something that the The Wizard of Oz could provide, so they join Dorothy.

They do meet with the Wizard, despite setbacks.  He tells them that he’s grant their wishes if any one of them kills the Wicked Witch of the West.  She sees this coming, but is unable to kill them.  As in the movie, Dorothy manages to kill the Wicked Witch of the West by throwing water on her, thus freeing the Winkies.

When they return to Oz, the Wizard is reluctant to honor the agreement.  Toto knocks over a screen to reveal the true nature of The Wizard.  The Wizard does his best to help The Scarecrow, The Lion and The Tin Woodsman.  He tells Dorothy that he has a hot-air balloon that can take them back to Kansas.  When Toto jumps out and Dorothy follows, The Wizard ends up leaving by himself.

This leaves Dorothy to find another way home, which The Good Which of the South may know of.  The party sets off to find her.  It turns out that Dorothy could use her magic slippers all along.  Dorothy returns home and all is well.

This is a children’s book.  You may be wondering why I read it.  I had always wondered how the movie related to the book.  When I found the book for free through Project Gutenberg, I decided to read it.  This is one of those cases where a lot was removed from the book.  The book takes place over several weeks, whereas the movie seemed to be much shorter.  Also, the movie treats the adventure as a dream.  In the book, it looks like everything actually happened.  There are also additional characters, such as field mice.  Dorothy and Co. have to cover a much greater territory and get to see a lot more of the lands and people there.

Since you can get it for free on Project Gutenberg, I’d recommend at least starting the book.  The only downside is that it doesn’t include the illustrations, but it does include the illustration captions.  This makes it a little frustrating, but I didn’t pay, so I’m not complaining.  (For those that are wondering, I tried to suggest the ebook version, but was told to simply post it here.)

I can see it being a little too childish for many adults.  I don’t think I would have read the entire thing had it not been for the movie.  I’ve also downloaded the next book in the series, but I haven’t felt as motivated to read it.  I may get around to finishing it, but it would probably only be for the review.

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