“I think you are wrong to want a heart. It makes most people unhappy. If you only knew it, you are in luck not to have a heart.”
“I think you are wrong to want a heart. It makes most people unhappy. If you only knew it, you are in luck not to have a heart.”

I read this book as a part of one of my graduate school courses. This particular one was about children’s classic books. I do not remember reading this book as a child, though I am quite familiar with the story (or, in some cases, versions of it). I assume most are familiar with the story as well, but just in case….This book is about Dorothy, a young girl who is transported to the land of Oz and must now search for a way home. She meets an interesting group of companions, and this story focuses on their adventures in relation to asking the Wizard for things, defeating enemies, et cetera.

With that said, I want to approach this in a hybrid kind of manner. By that I mean how I read this book as an adult, but also including elements connected to children at the same time.

I think that this definitely can be a nice book for children. For the most part, it takes an innocent and hopeful tone. The addition of Dorothy’s companions is also much better suited to a children’s book than they would be in a book for adults. I say this because despite the fact you might be able to argue it is a fantasy novel, and there are plenty of fantasy novels that would appeal to adults, this one would not work as well for adults with Dorothy’s companions.

I do feel like there might be some problematic elements in this book, given the fact that it is directed at children. I am talking about Dorothy’s entrance into Oz, the discovery of the Wizard’s true nature, and, to a certain extent, Dorothy’s last encounter with the Wicked Witch of the West. In my opinion, the book glosses over these moments in a problematic fashion. There seems to be very little guilt on Dorothy’s part in my eyes, and the Wizard does not have any consequences. In addition, the other characters barely react and continue to go on in an unnaturally cheerful manner.

A part of me thinks that my musings on this matter may be because I am looking at the book as an adult and thus I automatically have more cynicism than a child. However, another part of me does not believe that this is the case. I wrote about this in a little more detail in my graduate course, and can share that if you so wish. Just ask!

Overall, however, I think that the story in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz can be considered timeless. This is not necessarily it the exact form it appeared on the scene in first, but the translations and re-imaginations we have seen over the years. The elements of this story appear consistently. For example, we have seen musicals and new books related to this story in addition to movies and television shows with at least one element of Oz. I doubt that I could name them all.

I think out of the whole story in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, I like its versatility the most. I think it is great when you can take elements of a story and use them in a new way, and you definitely see that after The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. If I was to only take the original story into consideration, I doubt that I would like it as much, though it is still a decent story!

~~**~~

Title: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Author: L. Frank Baum

Publisher: many now, but originally George M. Hill Company

 

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