Book Review: “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” (1900) by L. Frank Baum



Here’s the thing: I didn’t grow up with The Wizard of Oz.

My parents never read the book to me and for a very long time I was only very vaguely familiar with the musical (something with red shoes and a tornado, right?). As I grew older, I became more and more aware of how deeply this story is woven into Western pop culture and bought the book at a discount fair, thinking that I’d have to read it eventually because it is such a big part of the American cultural heritage. Except that I didn’t, not for many years. I started singing Wicked songs in the shower, I watched a talent show where Andrew Lloyd Webber went looking for a girl to play Dorothy in the West End stage revival of the Oz musical, but I still hadn’t actually read the book.

Until now.

So what did I think?

It’s… Fine.

I kind of feel like I have entered Emerald City without putting on the green glasses first and even tough it looks like a perfectly servicable city to me, I don’t see that splendour that other people do through their green lenses. Don’t get me wrong, there are some creative ideas and a couple of nice lines in there, but there are also parts that haven’t aged very well and compared to other children’s classics like Alice In Wonderland or Peter Pan, this one just falls flat for me.

So is it the lack of nostalgia goggles? Is Oz‘s status as a cultural icon so powerful that people don’t see the flaws of the source material anymore? Have people even read the book or do they only remember the musical? Or am I just a grumpy curmudgeon who needs to cut this century-old children’s book some slack? I don’t know, but for now, I’ll just take the parts that I do like and leave the rest for others to enjoy.

And maybe finally watch that movie.

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One thought on “Book Review: “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” (1900) by L. Frank Baum

  • November 15, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    I thought the same thing when I first read the book earlier this year. But it kind of grows on you the more of the series you read. I’m up to the fifth book now. It’s slow going for sure but they have their moments. And I still haven’t watched the movie but I have understood and enjoyed the references in Once Upon a Time. Hang in there.


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