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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
By L. Frank Baum

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
By L. Frank Baum
Dover Large Print Classics, (2002)
ISBN: 0-486-42248-8
Genre: Children's Literature

Reviewed by Auggie Moore - November 28, 2002

This may be an overstatement, but I can state with some probability of being almost right that almost everyone has seen the movie, The Wizard of Oz, starring Judy Garland as Dorothy. This version of the The Wizard of Oz was released in 1939 and although not the first, nor the last movie to be based on L. Frank Baum's novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, it is by far the best known, and the most loved.

Baum was a genius when it came to writing children friendly stories. He wrote a series of books set in the 'Land of Oz' and they are, without exception, as fun to read to yourself as they are to read aloud to others. Unfortunately, in my estimation, the movie has won such an acclaim that it has come to over shadow the book upon which is was based.

The movie version of Baum's book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz follows the story fairly well, however there were several changes made to the novel when it was turned into a screen play. Some are minor, such as in the movie Dorothy is wearing ruby colored slippers, while in the book the slippers are silver shoes. Other changes, such as there being farm hands on Uncle Henry's farm in the movie, serve to complicate the plot line in the movie - complications that are not found in the book.The Wizard of Oz is, without reserve, in my opinion, one of the 'best' movies out there - however it pains me that it has come to overshadow the very book it was based upon, a book which should be required reading for everyone! Why? For the simple fact that it is simply a great work of children's fiction that will touch your heart and make you eager to read the other books in the 'Oz' series.

For those not familiar with the story, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz follows the adventures of a little girl named Dorothy who lives in a one room shanty on the plains of Kansas with her hard-working Aunt Em and Uncle Henry. They have no near neighbors, and Dorothy's sole chum is her beloved dog Toto. When a cyclone sweeps past the claim, Dorothy and Toto who are trapped in the shanty, are mysteriously whisked away to the magical land of Oz. When they emerge from the shanty they find that it has landed upon, and killed, the Wicked Witch of the East and that the land she is in is inhabited by oddly dressed people who call themselves Munchkins. The Munchkins had been enslaved by the evil witch, and they greeted Dorothy as their savior.

However, no matter how marvelous she felt the new land to be, Dorothy wanted to go home. However, even the Good Witch of the North who comes to welcome Dorothy to the land of Oz, does not have the power to send her home. There is only one person who might have that power and that person is Oz, a Great Wizard that lives in the City of Emeralds. So off Dorothy and Toto go in search of the Great Oz only to find that her adventures do not end with her meeting with the Great Wizard. Throughout the story, Dorothy has many adventures, and she quickly finds new friends to accompany her on her quest; including a talking scarecrow, a tin woodman, and a cowardly lion. Their journey to the City of Emeralds and beyond are beset by many perils, but they are all of non-nightmarish quality. Unlike the movie, which can be a bit scary for younger children, this book is suitable for readers of all ages.

A typical fairy tale, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz sees Dorothy set off on a quest - a quest that will force her to grow up and to nurture her better characteristic such as integrity and moral fortitude. But over all, this is simply a fun little story that will tickle the imagination of everyone who reads it. This Dover large print edition is a reproduction of a 1900 edition of the novel, and it includes a variety of illustrations by W. W. Denslow.

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