This book has long been one of my favorites. I don’t remember the first time I read it, but I know I was still in elementary school. I’ve read it several times over the years, and I always find it enjoyable.
At its core, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a fairy tale. A little girl goes on a journey and encounters obstacles that she overcomes with the help of her companions. It’s a pretty simple story, and there isn’t a lot of subtlety. The Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman, and Cowardly Lion all have their desires, but each shows time and again that they already possess the attribute they want from the wizard. Even Dorothy already has the means to reach her goal. Because of this, the story really is about the journey, and not the destination.
The story is both heartwarming and silly, but there are also some legitimately frightening portions. One thing that I found interesting in this read through is that the most dangerous moments of the journey were caused by the most benign things. For example, a field of flowers almost stops the companions cold. On the other hand, some of the most dangerous beasts in the land Oz are glossed over in just a few sentences. The Wicked Witch of the West sends killer bees, crows, and wolves to kill Dorothy, but they are all quickly and quietly dispatched while Dorothy sleeps.
Baum wrote 14 Oz books, and I plan on going through each of them. It’s been a long time since I’ve read them, and I look forward to re-exploring the world that captivated my imagination so much as a child.