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on 4 September 2012
"The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" by L. Frank Baum is the latest book I have read as part of an online Fantasy Classics Challenge I have taken part in. Like many of the other books I have read in this challenge, it is another story that I am aware of through movies and other media.

The first half of the story is actually quite close to what you could expect if you have seen the famous 1939 classic including a rather grey Kansas. Dorothy and her dog Toto get whisked away by a Tornado and land in Oz, accidentally killing the wicked witch of the East in the process. She immediately desires to find a way home and so begins an adventure along the Yellow Brick road to request the help of the great wizard that lives in the Emerald City.

However, the 2nd half of the book is a rather unknown and surreal affair that involves a journey across an entire land made out of porcelain china. Everything there is made of china including the people, animals and buildings and I can understand why the makers of the movie really didn't fancy trying to create this element of the story on the big screen.

This novel really is quite a surreal and quirky adventure and I did enjoy the journey it took me on. It can be quite hard to read a book like this when you have already seen the movie so many times but I found the differences between the two formats to be part of what kept me entertained. One of the little differences that really made me smile was when I found out that the Emerald City is not actually green, but the people in the city are made to wear green tinted glasses so it appears that way.

In all honesty though, I still think the movie is a slightly better form of the story. There is just a little bit more fun ingrained in that portrayal and the Wicked Witch of the West was used to a much more powerful extent. I also think the violence is toned down quite a lot in the movie which makes it a little bit more suited for children. I couldn't actually believe how many animal beheadings littered the novel.

The one specific little issue I had with the book itself though was the way in which the story was structured. The story was presented to the reader in sharp bite size chunks that felt like mini adventures within a very limited overall arc. It all just felt very piecemeal to me and spoilt the flow a little. However, I can see the advantage this provides when reading the book to a child who would happily enjoy the quick conclusions to the adventure contained in each chapter.

Overall, this was a fun little read that explored a more surreal side to the Wizard of Oz legend. I enjoyed exploring the little strands of difference between the book and the movie and it was quite an eye opener reading a children's fantasy book that didn't try and portray a moral conclusion to every action. I am probably going to try and continue my journey through Baum's Oz books just to see where the adventures in his rather quirky world could lead next.
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on 20 September 2014
I’m sure there is nobody who hasn’t at least heard of the film of The Wizard of Oz, and most people have seen it. It was my first introduction to the land of Oz so I couldn’t help but compare the two. I do like the film, despite it’s cheesy-ness.

One thing I was surprised about was the lack of appearance of The Wicked Witch of the West in the book. Yes she is there, but she isn’t as much of a major character. The wizard himself is less likeable too, but more like the film version of himself.

I did like the story. Although I think if I didn’t know elements of the story so well I would have enjoyed it more. There’s a little note at the begginning about it being written for children’s pleasure rather than any moral lesson. It certainly is more fun than moral, however I do think there was a bit of a lesson, about how you can improve yourself, or how people change I suppose.
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on 6 May 2014
When I was a kid I loved the movie and I remember that I used to fight with my sister at Christmas, who always wanted to watch Peter Pan instead. I won, every time, I think. But that's a long time ago!

I have always been aware of the original Oz books but never quite got round to reading them until now, the first one anyway. It's difficult to review children's books. Only children should review them but as I'm a book reviewer I will do a small, quick one.

This is very different from the movie but in a good way. I found myself enjoying it just as much as I would if I were a kid again. Compared to the movie, there are notable differences including the amazing world of china and the hammerhead people and a few gory bits that wouldn't have been included in the movie! Other bits appear from the film but in a different order and the tin man is the tin woodsman and the ruby slippers are silver shoes. Overall this is a fun read that I'm sure lots of adults would enjoy reading too. I did!

This is a proper children's book. There are a few morals and themes that come out of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, namely that by helping each other we can achieve more but also that we can achieve anything, if we just believe hard enough.

I want to go to Oz.

5/5
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on 2 May 2014
First time reading the book having seen the movie many many times.
it's not how you expect it to be and in fact is more interesting than the film with a lot more quirks and story twists.
i very much enjoyed it and have recommended it to friends if only for them to see what the story is really like!
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on 20 April 2016
Love this fantastical story of Dorothy and her adventures on the way to meet the Wizard of Oz, I have had this in hardback form for a long time, but downloaded it for reading on the family Kindle. You really can't beat a classic book like this, and whats more it was free...Cracking!!
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on 5 January 2016
Bit disappointed. No pictures and it looks like its printed like a play script rather than a book, it would be more reader friendly with more spacing and paragraphs. My son has no interest in reading it sadly. Not what I was hoping for.
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on 25 January 2014
Amazing. Without the witch of the south it would have been a length that any child could read. The story usually goes along the lines of:
Cyclone. House squishes wicked witch of the west
Follow the yellow road to the city.
Help the scarecrow.
Carry onto the city
Help tin woodman.
Carry on to the city.
Help the lion.
They all think the need something. The scarecrow wants brains. The tinman wants a heart. The lion wants courage and dorothy just wants to get home.
I definetely recommend to anyone whos watched a film of it or is going to in the near future. A lot of action in a great length classic!
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on 8 March 2014
We all know the story of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz - a classic, modern fairy tale, but perhaps most of us have forgotten or were not aware of how much darker the book is than the films. For instance, there is a scene where Scarecrow rings the necks of fifty crows and the Tin Woodman beheads fifty wolves. The Tin-Woodman himself has a much more gruesome beginning than I was aware of, but I will let new readers discover that for themselves.
Well written, amusing, dark and exciting. It certainly deserves it's status as a classic. If you have not read the book because you think you know the story I would ask you to reconsider. You are in for a treat.
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on 8 April 2014
An interesting read, this - as much as anything because it is markedly different to the film that was made of it. Over all, the film version provides a better story so this can be read on its own merits or as a good example of how a decent edit / re-write can really improve on an original idea.
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on 5 July 2014
Lions and tigers and bears... Oh my!

I can't read this book without the images from the film creeping in. And I'm always tempted to sing... But I guarantee even without these you will love the morality tale presented.
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