The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

by L. Frank Baum (1899)

A Sweet Spot and Intermediate selection.

Dorothy and her friends “journey through a country that is sometimes pleasant and sometimes dark and terrible.”  Sounds a lot like real life, doesn’t it?

Welcome to the original utopian society.  The great Emerald City promises to cure every ailment, solve every problem, and heal every woe.  Or does it? The iconic cast of characters in The Wizard of Oz embark on a journey of self-discovery and full-disclosure.  They will find that things aren’t always what they seem, and often what you really need most, you had all along.

For over a century, L. Frank Baum’s tale has shown readers how to question what is real, what is right, and what is ridiculous.  Baum takes us on a quest of self-discovery.  Each member of the eclectic group of friends finds their true selves by sacrificing for the others.  Baum’s magical world and clear, modern prose captivate readers as they seek to discover the mystery of Oz and many truths about the world.

Most 21st readers will be familiar with the story from the classic 1939 film.  Don’t stop there!  Intrepid readers will learn that there is still plenty of magic in the original text that didn’t make the film – including the Land of the China People and the Hammer-Head men.  They will also discover that not everything is at it seems.  Remember those flying monkeys that have scared generations of children?  Read and consider them again!

Displaced from her home, Dorothy seeks to find her way both literally and metaphorically.  She is joined by an array of creatures: a Scarecrow, a Tin Man, a Lion, and of course her dog.  Together, the new friends courageously work to help Dorothy achieve her goal. Sacrificing and caring for each other along the way, each learns lasting lessons about what is most important in life.  Each finds the strength within.  Despite the evil witch, the attacking trees, and the winged monkeys, the group manages to find their way to the desired Emerald City.  Are they brave enough to uncover the truths that lie there?

Families will find that a classic tale 120 years old is still delightful and accessible.  Rich characters and endless action ensure that modern readers will be eager to complete the journey with their new friends.  The lessons of love, friendship, redemption, and self-worth are ones that every family should share.  The Wizard of Oz has all these qualities that mark it is a timeless classic. Don’t settle for the film.  Travel through its pages, spark your imagination, and discover the true sources of courage, intelligence, goodness, and love.  And, once you have fallen for L. Frank Baum’s storytelling, look for his other titles.  The Wizard of Oz is only one of a large canon, with so much magic to share.