Friday, August 22, 2008

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, via DailyLit

I just finished reading my 51st and final installment of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, via the DailyLit service.

First, my thoughts on DailyLit. In a nutshell, I liked it, but only as a complement (not a replacement) to reading traditional books. The biggest detraction is that the reader does not have control over how much or how little she chooses to read in a single sitting. There is a link to request the next segment immediately, but it's just not the same as turning the pages yourself. On the plus side, I was able to read an extra book over the course of two months, without putting any additional strain on my already tight schedule. I certainly would not recommend this for a very long or complex book, but it served quite well for this children's classic.

As for the book itself, I am embarrassed to admit that I had no idea that the movie diverged so greatly from the book! The book is fantastic - no wonder it immediately became a classic. It's very dark, quite violent at times, and paints the four geographic quadrants of Oz as very distinct lands. Dorothy is much younger than in the movie, Glinda doesn't save them from the poppy fields, and the winged monkeys aren't evil! On the other hand, the Wizard is still a fake, the scarecrow, tinman and lion had to learn they always had what they desired, and Toto's still pretty useless. As with any movie, a great deal of detail and many sub-plots were left out due to time and expense. The biggest difference is that there is no question in the book that Oz is, in fact, a real place. Dorothy did not dream the entire adventure; she actually returned to Kansas.

Having read the book, I now understand the basis for the thirteen sequels that Baum wrote. I'm very pleased that we have several of the set that Joker read as a little boy, and I'm looking forward to sharing them with the Bug! And replacing our missing copies may well become my new eBay project!

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