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The Wizard of Oz - L. Frank Baum

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Author: L. Frank Baum / Format: Hardback / Date of publication: 01 April 2011 / Genre: Children's Classic Fiction / Publisher: Templar Publishing / Title: The Wizard of Oz / ISBN 13: 9781848775282 / ISBN 10: 1848775282 / Alternative EAN: 9781853261121

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      05.10.2012 14:41
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      Tells the real story of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, with lots more stories to follow

      The Wizard of Oz is one of the all-time great Hollywood movies. It made Judy Garland's career and that of actress, Margaret Hamilton, who played the Wicked Witch and who went on to have a very success acting career. The book upon which the film was based was written in 1900 and published under its full title, "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz". The book was a huge success and became a much loved children's story in America throughout the first decades of the 20th century.

      I had never read this book, even as a child, and it wasn't until a film sequel was made in 1985 under the title of "Return to Oz", staring the brilliant Nicol Williamson as the Nome King, new-comer Fairuza Balk in the role of Dorothy and the marvellous Jean Marsh as the Witch, Mombi, that I was impelled to find out if this film was based on an actual book or just an attempt to capitalise on the success of the original film.

      You can perhaps imagine my surprise when I discovered that Baum had written 17 Oz books in all, between 1900 and 1920, one of which is a cartoon strip, one a collection of short stories and one entirely about a single character, H M Woggle-Bug TE. It seems that Baum had been surprised at the success of his original book and kept being bombarded with requests from children for more stories. He professed throughout his life that he never ceased to be amazed at how popular the Oz books were. He also wrote a number of other non-Oz books.

      I discovered that the second film was actually based on the fifth book, published as "Ozma of Oz", a character who appears in the film but whose relevance (and it's a big relevance on the context of the Oz stories) is not really explained. The reason is that her place in Oz is actually detailed in the second book, which also includes the witch Mombi. However, this book ("The Marvelous Land of Oz") does not feature Dorothy and so this probably explains why that book was never filmed.

      With determination I set out to recapture my childhood and make up for what was clearly a major omission from my education. I actually didn't immediately read the original but started with the second book, mentioned above. This was a good move because, without it, some of the characters in the later books would be unexplained. I am now finally nearing the end of my marathon and am, at the time of writing this review, reading the final Oz book penned by Baum himself, Glinda of Oz (21 later sequels were written by Ruth Plumly Thompson, a huge fan of Baum's stories, between his death and hers in 1976). However, around the halfway point I finally got around to going back to the beginning.

      And here was a big surprise: there are significant differences between the original story and the film. First and foremost, the ruby slippers aren't ruby: they're silver! More especially though, there are characters created for the film that do not appear in the book at all. I can see why they were created though: the characters of Miss Gulch, Professor Marvel and the three farm hands, Hunk, Zeke and Hickory, create a link with the events in Oz that help the "did it or did it not actually happen" sub-plot. In the original story though, Uncle Henry and Aunt Em were far too poor to have been able to afford to employ farm hands. Baum did not need these parallels because as far as he was concerned, the Land of Oz most certainly did exist.

      However, be that as it may, the film proceeds with considerable faithfulness to the book. The story of a great tornado lifting Aunt Em and Uncle Henry's house up into the sky from Kansas and dropping it and its sole occupants, Dorothy and Toto, her dog, on top of the Wicked Witch of the East in Munchkin Land is just as in the book. From there, the journey to the Emerald City in search of the Wizard and her befriending along the way of the Scarecrow, The Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion are much as in the film.

      There are, however, far more exciting adventures along the way than were included in the film. This is understandable as many would have required technology that would have been challenging for Hollywood of the 1930s. Dorothy and her companions finally reach the Emerald City, their interactions with the Wizard are far more extended.

      Dorothy is challenged by the Wizard to kill the Wicked Witch, not just to bring him her broomstick, before he will help her return to Kansas and in doing so she faces and overcomes far more challenges from the witch than just the flying monkeys. In the end Dorothy prevails (I don't think I'm revealing any surprises here). However, left behind by the Wizard, just as in the film, it is Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, who reveals that the silver shoes Dorothy wears have the ability to take her wherever she want. And so the story ends.

      In the successive stories, Dorothy revisits Oz a number of times and eventually settles there for good, to enjoy numerous adventures with old and new friends. Even Uncle Henry and Aunt Em come to join her there in happy retirement.

      I have been enthralled by the Oz books. It may have taken my nearly 60 years too long to get around to reading them but I can say with confidence that my childhood education is now complete. I can also say that the Oz stories get even better with each new book. The great writers, like Baum and Sir Terry Pratchett, seem to have this huge talent for always finding something new with which to keep the franchise fresh and compelling.

      The stories are, it's true to say, very much of their era but they nevertheless pass the test of time with flying colours. The stories are highly moral, which we may consider quaint in these cynical days but is refreshing nevertheless. Would that some of our current generation would learn the lessons of friendship, kindness and faithfulness. Perhaps the World would be a better place?

      The books I have read in electronic format. You can download them all for free from the Gutenberg Project, in formats suitable for most eBook readers. You can even download them in HTML format (but without illustrations) and in this format I have been reading them on journeys by bus or train, in the web browser on my Nokia 5230 mobile phone. Otherwise, I read them either on my wife's Kindle, converted to Kindle format with Calibre, or on my laptop with the Calibre eBook reader. This way I can also see the wonderful original illustrations, with which the books are strewn.

      If you haven't read any of the Oz books then it still isn't too late, whether you are 7 or 70. These books are suitable for children of ALL ages, and that includes you.

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        11.01.2010 16:44
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        Dont be disappointed by the child like writing you can still appreciate the amazing story

        I have always loved the story of The Wizard of Oz as I'm sure many of you have through the wonderful 1939 film starring the amazingly talented Judy Garland. Due to my love of the film I had always been interested in reading the book by Frank L. Baum and once I did I was not disappointed. The book was originally published as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in 1900 and due to the popularity of the book Baum went onto write 13 sequels 2 of which were later turned into the less known 1985 film Return to Oz. The book was illustrated by W.W. Denslow.

        Baum was influenced by Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm and wanted to reprise fairy tales into his stories without the horror. Despite a small amount of horror in the book the reader can always be comforted by the idea of a classic fairytale which is the good which conquer over evil therefore the reader knows that Dorothy and her friends will succeed despite the witches' attempts.

        The Wizard of Oz has been translated into over 40 different languages and as the story was so popular it was adapted to suit the cultures and beliefs of different countries for example the Tin Man was changed to a snake for religious reasons in countries were Hinduism is practised. The popularity of the Wizard of Oz can also been seen by references in other shows for example Family Guy and Scrubs.

        The Wizard of Oz has also been turned into many stage adaptations including the up and coming TV show to look for a new Dorothy from ANDREW Lloyd Webber on BBC later this year. Plus the hugely popular Wicked which is loosely based on The Wizard of Oz by showing the audience the life of the Witch (I have seen it is amazing I truly recommend it).

        The plot of the book is very well known due to the movie however I strongly recommend the book and it has an amazing plot and the detail Baum goes into is much more than could ever be offered in the movie due to low special effects available in 1939 many parts of the book was cut from the movie including China County. Plus Baum's book brings new characters to the plot and different scenarios for Dorothy and her friends to get into. The makers of the movie wanted to take advantage of new Technicolor advances and therefore changed Dorothy's silver slippers in the book to ruby slippers in the movie which shocked me as the Ruby Slippers have become something of a movie classic. The overview of the book is very similar to the movie however which is that Dorothy and her friends are all on a quest to find the Wizard who can help them with the true wishes. Dorothy was to get back home to Kansas, the scarecrow wants to get a brain, the woodsman wants to get a heart, and the Lion wants to gain courage.

        Dorothy herself is different to how she is in the movie whereas in the movie she is strong and powerful helping her friends out of danger thought by many to be due to the rise of feminism at this time in the book on the other hand she is seldom brave herself but is often helped by her friends compared to the other way around sort of in a classic damsel in distress scenario.
        Some believe that Baum's book represents political images known in the 1890s just 10 years before the book was published which affected the lives of everybody at the time. Such as the powerful for example the Wizard and in some scenarios the Wicked Witch compared to the weak common people for example the Munchkins.
        The book is generally aimed at children however for anybody who loves the movie like myself would love to read the book despite the simple language and often large writing. The book is aimed at younger children either for you to read to them or as a book for children to start reading themselves to develop there reading skills which is when I first read the book.

        The original story is easy to find either in book stores, on online websites such as Amazon or at a car boot sale however the sequels are harder to find so if they are something you would like I would recommend Amazon for those and they stock everything.

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          01.06.2009 12:25
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          A brilliant novel that is a classic in its own right, highly recommended!

          The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum really is one of the most incredible novels available. It is a children's novel and is also a fantasy adventure that was originally published in 1990. The book contains 259 pages and so is a relatively long book for children but I'm sure as you know the quality is like none other and it just has the most amazing story line! In 1939 there was a film version of the novel made that was also very popular. I would really recommend this as a children's book because I remember absolutely loving this novel.

          The story is about when at first a large, scary and powerful cyclone that hits Dorothy's home in Kansas. This then forces Dororthy and her dog who is called Toto to a wonderful and magical land called Oz. The only way that she can get herself back to her home in Kansas is to follow the golden, yellow brick road. Once she comes to the end of the yellow brick road, Dorothy should find the Wizard of Oz and where he lives. Dororthy along with her parterns including Tin Woodman, Scarecrow man and the Cowardly Lion. They are the most beautiful children's characters who people can really relate to and I just think the adventure is wonderful. Dorothy and her group of new friends then go on their magical adventure in hope of getting back to her home.

          I would really recommend this novel because I think it is ideal as a children's book. The novel itself is beautifully written and the characters are just brilliant. I could not recommend this anymore and I hope you can see how wonderful it is. I really think that it is the ideal adventure that is described beautifully by the author. I hope this was useful and thank you very much for reading this!

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            17.04.2009 06:43
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            A truly beautiful story!

            The Wizard of Oz is a classic children's tale written by Baum in the 1890's and and later adapted into film to make one of the classics of early colour cinema. But behind the simple plot and charming characters, there are deeper messages that the reader may find for herself.

            The main character is a young girl called Dorothy who in a typhoon is transported along with her little dog Toto to a strange land seemingly outside reality, and she is on a quest to return home. Along her journey, she meets and makes friends with a straw man, a tin man and a lion who also each have a quest of their own.

            If you haven't read the book, it might be better if you read no further, but come back later. In the rest of this review, I want to share a couple of thoughts that occurred to me and that you might delight in if you've recently read the book.

            One of the main themes of the book is about facing fear. The four main characters are all courageous in their different ways. The lion thinks he doesn't have courage because he has fear. But courage we discover has nothing to do with fear - it's working out what the right thing is to do and doing it. In more detail, it's concentrating on what needs to be done (Dorothy), figuring out how to do it (Straw Man), & following through on the decision and doing it (Tin Man). which each character demonstrates whenever they are faced with a problem, and which the lion too ultimately realizes.

            Although Baum denied any deeper meanings, the Wizard of Oz has also been interpreted as an allegory of the 19th century depression.

            http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7933175.stm

            The Munchkins all dressed in blue are the workers enslaved by the banking and industrial corporations in the East, represented by the Wicked Witch of the East who after the tornado takes a hit from Dorothy's house (a literal housing crash) and melts away. And the Munchkin song shows they are not very motivated by what they do:

            We get up at twelve
            And start to work at one
            Take an hour for lunch
            And then at two we're done

            So they begin their quest by setting off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Oz!, in the same way that people seek solutions from their leaders, but the wizard turns out to be a fraud and at the end of the journey they find everything they were looking for within themselves...

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              31.10.2007 13:11
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              Dorthy lands in Oz, defeats an evil witch, frees the Munchkins, and gets her heart's desire

              Most of us are familiar with the realm of Oz through our childhood association with the 1939 classic film, The Wizard of Oz. Many no doubt also know that the film was based upon an original novel of the same name. What may not be known, however, is that this book, The Wizard of Oz, also published under the title The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, was actually the first book in a series written by Frank L. Baum. Initially conceived as bedtime stories for his children, Frank. L. Baum wrote the stories down and got them published to great acclaim. This first book appeared in print in 1900 and remains in print in over 47 languages around the world today.

              Baum looked to Alice in Wonderland's popularity, deducing it was the character of Alice that gave it its lasting appeal, and used this idea to create Dorothy Gale, the child protagonist. Wishing it to be more of a fairy tale, he considered Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm, and integrated their flights of fancy to more modern tastes , or as he put it, "without the horror". This is not to say he sugar coated his stories. There are moments of tenseness, and even fear, but is a child's Halloween type fear. The witch is bad, very bad, and she is mean, but we just know Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman, and Toto will get through it.

              Yes, this book's plot is well known. But don't let that put you off. It is richer and more detailed than the screen adaptation could allow, and different in places too. One such example is a minor one; Dorothy wore silver slippers, not ruby. MGM changed the slippers to ruby because of the limits in getting a good shot in Technicolor.The basic story is the same however. Seven year old Dorothy Gale lives on a farm in Kansas with her aunt and uncle, and gets swept away by a tornado to the land of Oz. There she has many adventures, meeting fantastical beings along the way from a town of china people, animals and houses, a living scarecrow, a rusted immobile tin woodsman, a cowardly lion, Winkies, Munchkins, flying monkeys, and a rich assortment of other characters. Accompanied by her little dog Toto, the now well oiled Tin Woodsman, the Scarecrow and the Cowardly Lion, Dorothy goes on a quest to obtain their hearts' desires. She to get back home, the Woodsman to get a heart, the Scarecrow to get brains, and the Lion to find courage.

              Like most fairy tales, this work of fantasy has a strong element of morality about it. Dorothy learns a valuable lesson about family and caring, the lion about what courage is, and so on. The lessons are not overt, but taught parable style through the various incidents in the book. One of the criticisms adult readers have often had about this book is that the writing is simple. Being aimed at the average reading level of a seven year old, this is not surprising. The words are easy to read, the typeface typically larger than in adult books, and the chapters short. Illustrations feature throughout the book frequently as well, making this an excellent choice for boys and girls to sample good literature in a beginning chapters type book and an ideal read a chapter before bedtime type read. Children aged 6-12 who enjoy fantasy will find this a treat, and no doubt will wish to continue their reading adventures in Oz. Luckily the books are all in print still, thanks to the enduring popularity of the series. This title is easy to find, being the bast known thanks to the film, but the other titles less so. Sadly, though easily available, it is not usually on prominent display in most high street shops, who may have a only a basic and less well thought cut print edition in the adults classics section. Looking online and in bargain bookstores and other places, you will often find a good reprint however that is designed for the children the book is aimed at.

              Our own copy came from Aldi as part of the classic children's books offers. Amazon also have several different editions, so have a good look around and choose one that appeals. I myself prefer the "pure" reprints, that have not been partially rewritten and abridged as is often the case, as the title is now in the public domain. There is no need for rewrites, as despite being written in 1900, there is nothing objectionable in the story at all or incomprehensible to a modern child. As copies of this book range from under £2 to £5, why not have a look about, and give a child a lasting gift? Give them the gift of literacy and a good rollicking adventure filled with humour and whimsy. It's booger free, fart free, and just good fun. My own children adore it, and I am sure yours will too.

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            • Product Details

              When a huge cyclone transports Dorothy and her little dog Toto from Kansas to the Land of Oz, she fears that she will never return home again. She and three friends she meets along the way make their way to the Emerald City where they hope to find the Wizard of Oz and have their wishes granted.