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of Oz in 1900, and, in my mind, has earned its place as a classic; although I know some have argued the lessons are outdated.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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