Thursday’s Tale: The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank BaumThe Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Narrator: Rebecca Burns
Series: Oz #1
Published by Tantor Audio on Dec 12, 2006
Source: Library
Genres: Childrens, Classic, Fantasy
Length: 3 hrs 38 mins
Format: Audiobook
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After her Kansas house is swept away by a cyclone to a strange land, young Dorothy Gale and her dog, Toto, join the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and cowardly Lion on an unforgettable journey to the Emerald City, where lives the all-powerful Wizard of Oz.

In his introduction to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which was first published in 1900, Baum wrote that the story “aspires to being a modernized fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heart-aches and nightmares are left out.” It has been considered the first American fairy tale because of its references to clear American locations like Kansas and Omaha. While agreeing with authors like Carroll about fantasy literature and its importance for children along with numerous illustrations, Baum also wanted to create a story that had recognizable American elements in it like farming and industrialization. It’s a mix of fantasy: witches and wizards, and the everyday: scarecrows, puppy dogs.

I have watched three movie versions of the Wizard of Oz over the years – the classic from 1939, the Muppet version, and last year’s Oz the Great and Powerful. Each has aspects of the original story, but none capture the whole adventure.

We all know Dorothy is a young girl being raised by her Uncle Henry and Aunt Em in Kansas, when a tornado lifts the house with her and her dog Toto in it and drops it in Munchkin Country in the Land of Oz, where it lands on and kills the Wicked Witch of the East. The Good Witch of the North comes with the Munchkins to greet Dorothy and gives Dorothy the magic silver shoes the Witch of the East had been wearing when she was killed. The Good Witch tells Dorothy that if in order to return to Kansas, she’ll have to follow the yellow brick road to the City of Emeralds  and ask the Wizard of Oz for help. Before she leaves, the Good Witch of the North kisses her on the forehead, giving her magical protection from trouble.

On the way, Dorothy meets her three companions: the Scarecrow who wants to a brain, the Tin Woodman who wants a heart, and the Cowardly Lion who wants courage. All four of the travelers believe that the Wizard can solve their problems. They have many adventures, including overcoming obstacles such as gaps in the yellow brick road, vicious kalidahs (beasts with bodies like bears and heads like tigers), a river, and a field of deadly poppies.

When the travelers arrive at the Emerald City, they each meet with the Wizard, who agrees to help them if they defeat the Wicked Witch of the West. The Guardian of the Gates warns them that no one has ever managed to harm the very cunning and cruel Wicked Witch.

The friends head west, but the Wicked Witch can see them coming and sends forces to kill them, including wolves, crows and bees. The friends defeat all of them. Finally, she uses the power of the Golden Cap to have the winged monkeys capture Dorothy, Toto and the Cowardly Lion, and immobilize the others by un-stuffing the Scarecrow and denting the Tin Woodman. This plan is successful and the survivors are carried to the Witch.

Eventually, Dorothy in anger throws a bucket of water at the Witch and the Witch melts away. Dorothy, after finding and learning how to use the Golden Cap, summons the Winged Monkeys to carry her and her companions back to the Emerald City. When Dorothy and her friends meet the Wizard of Oz again, he tries to put them off but Toto accidentally tips over a screen and finds the Wizard hiding behind it. He is an ordinary old man who came to Oz via a hot air balloon a long time ago. The Wizard provides the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion with what they think they need, even though the reader knows they’ve had the qualities all along.  In order to help Dorothy and Toto get home, the Wizard realizes that he will have to take them home with him. He has a new hot air balloon made from green silk, but just as Dorothy is about to join him in the balloon, Toto runs off. While she fetches him, the balloon with the Wizard aboard takes off without her.

Dorothy and her friends go to see Glinda, Good Witch of the South, who they are told may be able to help Dorothy and Toto get home. They have more adventures on the way , but eventually they get to Glinda’s palace and Dorothy learns that the shoes can take her home. The rest of the travelers get a happy ending too, each with his own kingdom to rule over.

It’s an enjoyable story about friendship, team work, and keeping your promises. There are enough similarities and differences from the movie that it’s familiar but there are still surprises. It’s one I would have enjoyed reading with Amber when she was younger.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.


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