Original Publication Date: 1900
Genre: Children's fantasy
Topics: journey, psychology, magic
Review by heidenkind:
Dorothy is a little girl who lives in the gray and depressing land of Kansas. But one day a tornado takes her to a magical land, where she makes friends with a scarecrow, a tin woodsman, and a cowardly lion. They all decide to accompany Dorothy to the Emerald City, where she wants to ask the Great and Powerful Oz to help her get home. Why she wants to go back to Kansas I don't know, but she does. Along the way they have many marvelous adventures.
Almost everyone is familiar with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz thanks to the movie, but I imagine not many people have read the book--which is a shame. Although the movie streamlines Dorothy's adventures so that the narrative is smoother--okay, it tells the story better; they actually did a REALLY good job adapting the book to the screen--there's a lot to recommend the book by L. Frank Baum. In fact, I think I enjoyed the book a lot more.
First of all, the characters. I LOVE the Tin Man. He's so sweet, I just want to hug him. The Scarecrow is always full of good ideas and the Cowardly Lion always does things even though he'd afraid. Baum actually presents a cogent study of human motivation with these characters--as one of my professors used to say, there's always a push and pull. Dorothy and her friends travel to the Emerald City because they're pushed from their homes by what they fear (for example, the Scarecrow is afraid of fire), and pulled toward the Emerald City because of what they want. Since they perceive certain things to be their weaknesses, they spend a lot of time trying to make up for them by overcompensating--the Tin Man (love him), who thinks he doesn't have a heart, always looks where he's walking, because if he steps on a bug he feels so bad he starts to cry.
Of course, they learn during the course of their journey that they are actually brave, smart, etc. In a lot of ways the voyage of Dorothy and her friends in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz reminded me of going to college. You do miss your home, but at the same time being away from your home allows you find things about yourself that you wouldn't otherwise. By going on the journey to get what they want, the characters in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz become what they want to be. Really kind of an inspirational story!
I would definitely recommend this book for people of all ages. It's short, sweet, fun, and smart. By the way, I listened to the audiobook version narrated by Anne Hathaway, and she did a great job, even though she was clearly drawing from the film.
Get The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum at Project Gutenberg|Librivox