by L. Frank Baum
I think it’s probably safe to assume that the majority of people are far more familiar with the 1939 movie version of The Wizard of Oz, starring a young Judy Garland, than with the book that spawned the movie. I’m not sure why the movie ended up being so much bigger than the book, which actually did do very well when it was published in 1900.
In any case, I’ll assume that anyone reading this is familiar with the basic plot of the story: a young girl who lives with her aunt and uncle on a farm in Kansas is swept away, along with her beloved dog, by a cyclone – house and all – and dropped in a strange, faraway land. Wanting very much only to get back to Kansas, Dorothy is directed to the Great and Terrible Wizard of the land of Oz, which is very far from where her house was dropped, killing the Witch of the East, in the Land of Munchkins. She is set upon a road of yellow bricks which will lead her to Oz, her only hope. Along the way, she meets a scarecrow, a man of tin, and a lion, who each in turn also want something from the Great and Terrible Wizard, so they join Dorothy on her journey, and along the way, they have adventures.
The story differs from the movie in many ways, from the Witch of the West’s appearance in the story, as well as the two Good Witches, and perhaps biggest of all, the fact that the book does not present the entire story as a dream Dorothy has while knocked unconscious by the cyclone. The book also presents the reader with more characters and more strange lands than the movie does, without being burdensomely long.
My girls and I listened to the audio version of this book, read by Anne Hathaway, for our homeschooling literature. We all enjoyed it very much, and I encourage anyone who has seen the movie but not read the book to read it.