“There is no place like home.”
― L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
One of the most renowned tales ever, and is often compared with Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’, ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ provides a simple tale about a young girl’s journey to a surreal world filled with short, cheerful beings known as the Munchkins, their yellow counterparts the Winkies, bear-tiger hybrids known as Kalidahs the Flying Monkeys, and small China Figurines. It is the tale about Dorothy Gale, an innocent little girl from Kansas that gets blown away by a huge cyclone along with her little pet dog, Totot, to the land of the Munchkins. There, she meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, the Cowardly Lion, and various characters, good and bad, kind and terrible, honest and cunning, in her quest to return to her home she knows and loves. There is a wide variety of ordeals she and her friends have to overcome, starting from escaping the ferocious Kalidahs, traversing through deadly poppy fields, facing wicked witches, and confronting Oz, the supposed ultimate being of the book’s world.
Baum planned ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ to be a modernized fairy tale, where the wonderment and joy are retained and the heart-aches and nightmares are left out. Moral values had been prominent in the world of children literature and the Brothers Grimm’s works can be a proof of that, in which fairy tales used to depict the outcomes of irrational decisions and supposedly unwise decisions in negative, and sometimes cruel, ways. Baum did not really like that establishment of fairy tales, and he would like positive and joyful moments to be the main focus in children literature as according to him, modern education already included morality, and he did just that with ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’. Throughout the story, we are blanketed with simple narratives filled with joy and innocence, straight to the point remarks without much confusion, and easy-to-follow plotlines. Baum offer a neat series of events along with the solutions, providing a well structured read.
Despite of being an enjoyable read, the book does not neglect the lessons it can bring. We are not given unrealistic moral decisions, but we are given the ones that we can relate to. Dorothy’s actions throughout the story were intended to depict the ideal American values, which are being humble and hard work, symbolized by Dorothy and her companions’ quest throughout the vast land of Oz. Various literary aspects are present within the story, and the actions of the characters are explained in a detailed, yet understandable way, making comprehensions easy and satisfying at the same time; such narratives provide a remarkable level of enjoyment and lessons that can be analyzed deeper. Moreover, it does not offer a simplistic story with a very limited scope of problems; there are various problems with different solutions and not all of them come easy. Also, the fact that it has a deep and complex plot with a few unpredictable twists is already a phenomenon that very little fairy tales are able to trigger.
However, as in most fairy tales, ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ does not really contain many out-of-the-box solutions; we are given wonders and joy, but not the intense and deep solution to the problems offered, which is understandable as it is a form of literature aimed for younger readers. The fact that it is able to deliver the same level of joy is more than enough proof that is worthy of the positive acclaims it received. Still, there is one point that backlashes the original purpose of the book to serve as a pure entertainment, although this may or may not be a good thing; there are cases in which a sense of dread and despair are dominant throughout a few of the chapters, even though they do not really affect the cheerful vibe of the book significantly.
Adults or not, ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ is a must read as it is probably one of the major trendsetters for what we call as modern fairy tales.
Rating from me: 4/5
What do you think of the book? Share your thoughts in the comments! 😀