Growing up, we had a TV with an antenna. Cable TV was available at the time, but we didn’t have it until later on in my teenage years. I can remember we could only pick up just a handful of stations on our TV with the antenna. And at some point when I was in elementary school, I remember my parents buying a VCR. A VCR! How exciting! We were actually able to watch movies that we could pick out at the local movie rental store. It was amazing!
But you know what I have always remembered from those years of having a TV with an antenna? Waiting anxiously each year for three movies to air on one of the stations we could pick up with the antenna…The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, and The Wizard of Oz. It was always an exciting time for me when these movies came on; I looked forward to it each year. From the amazing Mary Poppins, to Maria singing Do-Re-Mi, to Dorothy and her three friends and Toto making their way to the Emerald City…great adventures awaited on the TV screen.
Of those three movies, my mom especially loves The Wizard of Oz. And to this day, she cracks us up with her imitation of the wicked witch of the west talking to Dorothy or proclaiming “I’m melting! I’m melting!”
You can imagine that with such fond memories of anxiously awaiting to watch The Wizard of Oz each year when I was growing up, along with having a mother who loves the movie as well, it would’ve been a natural conclusion for me to read the book. But I didn’t. In fact, I hadn’t read the book until last year…when I picked it up, read a few chapters, and set it aside. I don’t know why I set it aside really…probably because of choosing to read other books at the time. So this year, when I decided to join Modern Mrs. Darcy’s reading challenge, I knew this book would be the exact book I would choose for the category “A Book You Previously Abandoned.”
Even though the movie is called The Wizard of Oz, that title is actually the title of a whole series of books L. Frank Baum wrote. In fact, I understand that Baum wrote fourteen Oz books. The first in this series is the one I read, entitled The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
Like most books that are made into movies, there were definite differences. While I enjoyed the book, the movie just has a magical quality to it that has a way of whisking you away to the land of Oz. Not that the book isn’t magical in its own way. But I think the movie was able to capture that magicalness (hmmm….is that even a word???? I don’t think so….) in a way that wasn’t there in the book. As I read the part when Dorothy stepped out of the house into the land of Oz, I couldn’t help but picture that famous scene in the movie where all goes from black and white film to a world of bright and magnificent colors. Magicalness. Pure magicalness.
Something that really stood out to me as I read the book, is how over the course of the journey to the Emerald City, the Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion all exhibited and/or developed the very characteristics of the things they were wanting to ask the great Wizard of Oz to give them. The Scarecrow, who wanted a brain, began to have ideas and think about things more. The Tin Man, who wanted a heart, was compassionate and caring. The Cowardly Lion, who wanted courage, showed great courage and was brave a number of times.
This book is a timeless classic…well written and engaging. I have seen this book recommended for 1st-4th grades. I would say that as a read-aloud, that is probably about right. However, my suggestion is that this is a book you might want to look at ahead of time to determine what age would be best to read it aloud to your child. Also, if you are cautious about reading books with witches and wizards and magic, know that this book has these things. The land of Oz has both good witches and bad witches. The good witches are really more like fairy godmother type characters. And my next comment has a spoiler alert: The wizard, in the end, is not really a wizard at all.
And for all of you Wizard of Oz fans, you’ll definitely want to watch the recent movie Oz the Great and Powerful. It gives a lot of backstory to The Wizard of Oz.