Review: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I bought this book with the intention of building up a little library of children’s stories for my kids. Along with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, I also purchased The Monkey With a Notion (not listed on Goodreads), and a first edition Where the Wild Things Are. I’d like to gather up all the classic fairy tales used in Disney movies so (s)he has a nice foundation.

As far as The Wizard of Oz is concerned, I found it very interesting that Mr. Baum decided to create such a rich fantasy story with no apparent lesson at all. He addresses this in the introduction to the book as being a conscious decision. He explains, the fairy tales of the past were riddled with horror and consequence in order to impart some moral lesson. However, in this “modern” age, moral education is so pervasive, he felt these tactics were unnecessary, and instead sought to provide a purely entertaining story. I would love to share his views on modern education, but I very much doubt that anyone could honestly claim our age imparts such strong moral convictions anymore.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz brought me the most enjoyment in finding where it diverged from the film, for instance, when the Wicked Witch of the West is defeated about halfway through the book. Such interesting changes from the familiar are entertaining, but I wonder how they will appeal to a young child. Perhaps I expect too much from it, though. In a child’s world, when heroes encounter a problem, they solve that one and move on. There need be no more complexity than that. They won’t care to go searching for a deeper meaning in the Scarecrow or Lion. Perhaps it is enough after all.

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