Sunday, September 09, 2018

Bookish Thoughts: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

~ Opening of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz


The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Oz #1) by L. Frank Baum, narrated by Anne Hathaway
Audible Audio, 2012 (originally published in 1900)
Fantasy (Children's); 3 hrs, 49 minutes

I have not been too good about keeping up with audiobooks as of late (when have I ever?) and decided to pop in a short one while doing some major housecleaning. L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz seemed to be the perfect option. I am not sure what compelled me to decide to get this one in the first place, given I am not the biggest fan of the original movie. On second thought, it probably had everything to do with my daughter’s recent performance in a stage musical version. I wish now I had listened to it with her. I even bought a physical copy of the book to read to her—but she hasn’t shown any interest, sad to say.

L. Frank Baum first published The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1900, and, in my mind, has earned its place as a classic; although I know some have argued the lessons are outdated. And there are those readers who cannot help but see the symbolism at every turn, analyzing every nook and cranny. There is nothing wrong with that. That’s just not the type of reader I am. I listened to this novel strictly for entertainment purposes, and got just what I was looking for—an imaginative and delightful story about a girl who is thrust into an unknown fantastical world where she longs to find her way home. Along the way, she meets new friends, helps them along, and faces both big and small obstacles.

I have seen the movie multiple times over the last few months (thanks to my daughter), and it was nice to fill in some of the details with the book. And to see the differences. I never knew that the black and white opening of the movie is actually written in the book. Suddenly there is meaning behind it! And knowing more about the backstories of some of the main characters was nice, some of which I had picked up in Gregory Maguire’s Wicked. I almost want to go back and read Maguire’s novel to compare the two. My favorite backstory has to be that of the flying monkeys. I really appreciated their plight and even their tenuous tie to the Wicked Witch of the West. It is so much more complicated than depicted in the movie. I also appreciated that the book’s ending—or resolution—is a bit more fleshed out in the book than it is in the movie. We get to see a little more of Oz and have a better idea where each of the character’s fates lie—besides just Dorothy. The book is a bit darker than I initially expected, but it was balanced out with the tongue and cheek writing, and compassion and hope of many of the characters. Of course, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is just the beginning of a series of books set in Wonderland. As much as I enjoyed this book, I have not yet decided if I want to jump into the rest. It is tempting though!

Anne Hathaway narrates the version of the book I listened to, and I was quite satisfied with her reading. I cannot say I would have known it was her except her name is on the cover. I tried to convince my daughter that we should listen to it on our way up north while on vacation, but she ultimately was more interested in her tablet. Oh well. Hopefully I can interest her in the book one of these days. I really think she would like it. Especially given her personal tie with the story now.


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20 comments:

  1. It's always good when there are various experiences to be taken from a book. I think I read one of the sequels as a child, and it was okay but not as good as this one.

    Never knew that about the b&w either! Fascinating!

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    1. Charlie - I am not sure when, or if, I will get around to reading the rest of the series, but I am tempted.

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  2. I read this when my son was in elementary school and the whole school district read it. Can you believe I've never seen the movie from start to finish?

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    1. Kathy - I can say the same about A Christmas Story. Never seen it all the way through--just bits and pieces. I've probably seen the entire movie, just not in order. Haha

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  3. I loved the Oz books growing up, but oddly enough, never read this one until I was much older. Hope you can read it with your daughter someday. I still love all the books my mom read with me. :)

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    1. Lark - I hope Mouse will let me read it to her. I think she'd love it. :-)

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  4. I'm not a fan of the movie either but in spite of that I was surprised to learn that there were so many Oz books, which I thought was kinda cool. I even entertained the idea of tackling them but never did. Still it's interesting to think about how much worldbuilding he may have done in those.

    I'm the same kind of reader, BTW. Sometimes I miss the symbolism or all the metaphors or whatever, but I just want to be entertained usually. :)

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    1. Greg - I hadn't realized it was an entire series until a few years ago either. Maybe one of these days I'll read the rest. I imagine they aren't long, like this one wasn't.

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  5. I don't think I've read this (although I love Wicked, which is a spin on it) but I really should!

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  6. I have this on my To Listen list so I'm glad to see you enjoyed it. I'm like you when it comes to symbolism and all that and while it may be dated I am usually able to overlook that as long as it doesn't get too tied down in lesson teaching (aka Louisa May Alcott). I'll have to look for the version narrated by Anne Hathaway!

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    1. Katherine - I think you will like it, Katherine, when you get to it.

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  7. I've seen the movie dozens of times but have never actually read the book. I'm going to have to make a point to do that one of these days.

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    1. Suzanne - I am so glad I finally read the book. My goal now is to read the original Nutcracker tale!

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  8. Ah, Wendy, I hate to say this is one place we definitely differ :-/

    Unlike you, I've loved the movie since I watched it as a kid on TV when it aired once a year back in the 60s. As a writer I wanted to read it to see the differences between book and screen adaptation. I was SO disappointed when, from the first page, I hated the writing style so much, it was like pulling my literary teeth to get through it. The ruby red slippers were light years better (imo) than the silver and that was only one detail.

    Anyway, I can't imagine I'll ever try to read it again to give it another chance, but maybe audio is the way to go with it!

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    1. Donna Marie - It's okay. Not everyone will enjoy the same books and movies. I do agree that changing the slippers from silver to ruby was a nice touch for the movie.

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  9. We listened to this one as a family during a trip and enjoyed it. I had never read the book and was a bit surprised by some of the difference. I thought that Anne Hathaway did a great job with the narration. Give your daughter a couple of years and I bet she will really enjoy it!

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    1. Carole - I am glad you enjoyed this one too, Carole! I hope I can interest Mouse into it one of these days. I really think she'd like it.

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  10. I've never read this full book, but I loved the movie as a child. I should pick it up! It's funny how sometimes we just can't get our kids to connect to something the way we want them to. Sigh.

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. Nicole - I thought for sure my daughter would want to hear the story given how into the movie she was because of the musical. Oh well. Maybe I can interest her in the original Nutcracker story. Haha

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