Finally, I have begun the journey to Oz. I have been a fan of the 1939 movie production since I was very young. I loved the switch over from black-and-white to color film. I loved the Scarecrow, his wobbly legs and unfailing loyalty to Dorothy. The Lion was just hilarious. There are a couple times when you can tell Judy Garland was trying to keep a straight face around him. The Tinman had such a sad smile. All characters I had already known, but never knew the truth. Baum’s story is quite different.
Dorothy does indeed go up in a cyclone, disappearing in the house and swirling away from Aunt Em. She does land on the Wicked Witch. But the shoes. THE SHOES. The shoes are not ruby as we all know them to be. They are SILVER shoes. This blew my mind.
The Munchkins are very different in the book. I’m not even sure they are called Munchkins. One of the good witches directs Dorothy to the road of yellow brick, the path to the Emerald City to meet the Great Oz to take her and Toto back to Kansas.
On the way, she meets the Scarecrow, the Tinman, and the Lion respectively. Each give their stories and why they are seeking a brain, a heart, and courage. They may not know it, but each one already has these things.
Let’s discuss the Tinman for a minute. Does anyone REALLY know how the Tinman came to be? He was destined to marry the love of his life, but because he was a lumberjack, the girl’s evil grandmother (aunt, mother, I can’t remember) enchanted his axe. Each time he took a swing at a tree, he cut off a limb. He kept getting the limbs replaced until he finally cut off his head and torso. The tinsmith who replaced his body parts forgot to give him a heart. This is why he is seeking one from the great Oz. Now please tell me, if that isn’t the CREEPIEST children’s story I’ve ever heard! I remember reading the Oz book about the Tinman when I was younger and being totally creeped out by it. I mean, who writes that for CHILDREN? Maybe Mr. Baum had a touch of Alfred Hitchcock in him at the time.
Anyway, they go to the Emerald City, where everything is green…because they wear green goggles. And there are no animals. The movie has a “horse of a different color;” whereas, the book does not mention any animals. They go to the great Oz, but he will only see one guest per day. Each time they go to him, he takes a different form. He refuses to grant their wishes unless they help Dorothy kill the Wicked Witch of the West. (Again, a little morbid for a children’s book).
I think you can all guess the ending. Especially if you’ve seen the movie. But let me tell you, the book is way different than the movie. There is no nicey-nice Over the Rainbow music pouring from the pages. It has a lot of triumphs and failures and sleep-inducing poppies and killer Genie monkeys. This is the first of 10 Oz books that I will hopefully be reading in the near future.
I give this book a 2.5/5.