The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Wellbook305-puffin-classics-the-wizard-of-oz-l-frank-baum, you don’t see it often, but every now and then you DO find a movie that is better than the book. I haven’t revealed this fact to my children yet. So far I have had success in convincing them that the book is always better. But after reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz I am eating my words.

Having seen the movie a bazillion times before I read the book, it was easy to spot some differences. First of all, there is no mean woman-turn-witch riding her bike taking “the little dog” with her. The main characters still have the same personalities and the plot is the same; a cyclone comes, drops Dorothy’s house in Munchkin Land, she needs to see the Wizard to get back to Kansas, etc. But there are all sorts of people/creatures/lands in the book that you never see in the movie. And Dorothy’s slippers were silver, not ruby. (what??) And they traveled along the “Road of Yellow Brick” instead of the “Yellow Brick Road”.  And we meet the Tin Woodman instead of the Tin Man. No biggie…and later he decapitates hundreds of wild animals in order to protect his friends. (Noble and brave for sure, but a little violent…) His story alone kept things interesting.

Despite all the violence and gore it remains a pretty wacky, kid-friendly book.

The more analytical reader will be interested to know that there are some political undercurrents flowing through this childhood fantasy. I would never pick up on anything like this unless someone told me. You can read more about that here.


LOST Connection

There are verbal and visual references to The Wizard of Oz on LOST.

There is a scene where Desmond is sitting on a bench outside of a jewelry store. Nearby some construction is going on and suddenly some scaffolding falls. Desmond looks over and there is a man underneath the rubble, his legs are sticking out and he’s wearing two red Converse tennis shoes. When I saw it, I immediately thought about the Wicked Witch of the East and I half expected his legs to roll up and disintegrate.
Another time we meet Henry Gale. (Henry Gale, you’ll remember, is Dorothy’s uncle.) His story was that he crashed on the island in a hot air balloon. He ends up being a fraud, like the wizard.
And again a scene where John Locke confronts Ben and tells him that he’s the man behind the curtain, the Wizard of Oz, and a liar. (That is such a fabulous scene!)

So have you guys read this one? Do you know of other books that made it to movies and the movie was way better?
I guess it does happen, sometimes.

One thought on “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

  1. Oh goodness, I read this a while ago, but I knew it was going to be a lot different than the movie. I think it’s hard to compare the two because the movie is just so culturally pervasive (and darn charming.) I did know that the original slippers were silver not ruby- they were changed to red for the movie version to show off technicolor. Fun fact :). Also, movie Dorothy nearly wore a blonde ringlet wig.

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