Read: The Wizard of OZ by L. Frank Baum, illustrated by Michael Hague


When I was a baby, my parents decided that they would collect Wizard of OZ memorabilia for me. Dad being an antiques dealer, this isn’t too unexpected since their house is essentially a museum of colonial items. But why, the Wizard of OZ, I’m not sure (*see FOLLOW-UP after the picture for the real story from Dad). The extended family joined in and I have a good size collection of books, glasses, dolls, and much more. Most of all, I love the movie with Judy Garland. The VHS might still work but I upgraded to a DVD several years ago. It’s classic, from my childhood, yet remains a great adventure story. I don’t know why I wasn’t frightened as a kid by it. Probably because I knew the story and movie so well and knew it would be alright. I can’t recall the first time I watched it, having seen it so young and so many times.

This entire time, I owned The Wizard of Oz, both as the single book that I finally read for this post, and the ones that make up the series of other Oz stories (unread and at my parents’ house). My copy has a dedication on the title page “Merry Christmas, Emily 1989 Nana & Grampa”. This is a lovely version with its illustrations that are true to the story so it helps flesh out the original version nicely. Though movie quotes and images and scenes did crop up, especially when they weren’t actually in the original. Overall it is the same but there are many differences and a lot of Oz creatures and adventures left out.

A couple of times growing up, I picked up this book and began to read it but found it too similar to be of interest. And the first 50 or so pages basically are the same. But I treasured and could recite the movie so Dorothy had to have red ruby slippers, not silver and Glinda wasn’t old nor kissed Dorothy on the forward to protect her–clearly I’d decided that the book didn’t get the movie right so I stopped.

Returning to it now, I soak in and relish all the differences and the enormity of the world Baum created along with the complexity of the originally story. Granted, the movie is amazing for what it captures and was an awesome technicolor feat for its time, and it still look gorgeous. However, the book is more of a traditional fairy tale than the movie reveals–close to a classic Grimm brothers’ fairy tale with murder and brutal details. Fairy tales were made for adults with them in mind as the audience to either entertain in courts and for women to tell each other while doing chores, for example. MGM did to Baum what Disney did to Grimm, made the stories kid-friendly. Both serve a purpose but I enjoy reading the originals too.

Recommended?: Yes! Though it may be hard to get a kid to sit through this version since the movie is so pervasive. Baum’s originally isn’t nearly as dark as a Grimm brothers’ fairy tale. Dorothy and her friends toil so much more and their adventure is grander than in the movie, so it’s like an American Dream where you have to prevail and preserve–there’s no Glinda to wave her wand, just the kiss that protects Dorothy herself. And no songs in the book. That was all MGM.


FOLLOW-UP (Oct. 18, 2012):

After talking with my dad, I got the video of The Wizard of Oz when I was 2-3 and watched it over, and over, and over, and over. He said the right word for it is “obsessed”. Having this obsession with the movie, they decided that since they like collecting that I should have a collection and it might as well be Oz memorabilia. I’m glad to now have the real chain of events, for the record. Plus, it makes much more sense that I played the movie repeatedly without tiring because I’ve definitely read books and series in that intense, devouring, can’t-get-enough state before–along with some other movies and now TV shows, too. But none like how I watched The Wizard of Oz. Again, as a young kid, Bambi also was typically in the VCR, though not nearly as often. That obsession caused to me, at age five, to name my cocker spaniel puppy Bambi, and he was such a dear. 🙂 Deer. Hee hee.


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