Continuing on my current trend of reading shorter books, I started The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Young Adult Fantasy 224 pages) by L. Frank Baum yesterday and was easily able to finish it today.
I enjoyed this book and this story very much. I liked that this was a story of adventure and fun and I was absolutely moved by all the bright and different colors. I have never read this story before, nor have I seen any of the movies that share the title. I’d have to say that none of the ones I’ve seen previews for could possible do justice to this book.
I think there are some lessons to be garnered throughout this story, even though the notes by L. Frank Baum specifically state that this story is intended purely for entertainment.
Dorothy is a very simple girl from Kansas. She longs for her home because it is the home that she knows. This really strikes a chord with me because people ask me all the time why I want to eventually move back to my home state, where it apparently rains more than most people would like. It’s my home and I miss it. I miss the rain and the way the world smells clean afterwards. I miss seeing the sunsets over the ocean and mountains right after a storm. I miss the storms and the lightning. I miss the greens and I even miss the greys. I miss listening to the rain on the roof and the days of hot chocolate and cozy warm blankets. I miss dancing in the puddles and in the rain, so soaked that you might as well jump in a pool. I miss the forests and the scenic drives. I miss the ferry rides. It is my home and I miss it terribly. And that’s exactly what Dorothy misses in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. She misses the home that she knows. So while my home and Dorothy’s may seem like polar opposites, I understand her yearning all too well.
One of the really big things to take away from this story, though, is to be polite to everyone and help out everyone that you can. Even the smallest creatures or events are connected in ways that we can’t possibly understand. Helping a mouse now might lead to saving one of your friends trapped in a poppy field, or getting directions when you are lost. Also when you help people, you make friends who are willing and eager to help you, as friends should always do. Dorothy, Toto, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion all become friends and they help each other out. Each one has several times in the story where they are uniquely suited to save the adventure and the rest of their friends and they each perform their tasks with all their heart. They go back for members of their party who are lost and don’t leave them behind. They share in each other’s enjoyment and each other’s sorrow. They are friends in the true definition of the word.
Each one of the characters are completely different sizes and shapes, with very different personalities. This is also a lesson in not judging people because they are not like you. If Dorothy had started her adventure and not been open-minded and caring enough to help the Scarecrow, even though she didn’t know him and he wasn’t a human like her, then the adventure would have likely taken an entirely different path. I very much liked how each of the characters were so very different. I guess the story would also say something along the lines of, “be who you are and amazing people will enter your life, but don’t expect them to be anything like you. Accept them for who and what they are and your friendship will only grow.”
I also liked that each of them already had the characteristics they were hoping magic could grant them. The Scarecrow had a lot of really good ideas during their adventures. The Tin Woodman cared more for those around him than I’ve seen most enlightened people do today. The Cowardly Lion showed more bravery in defending his friends than I think most people would show. They all just needed to believe in themselves in order to have what they wanted the most. I think that’s a hard lesson for anyone to learn. Believing in yourself takes a lot of work and courage and the path is often paved with self-doubt and self-judging. I know I’ve spent a lot of time being my own worst enemy and I still slip ever-so-slightly into those self-destructive thought processes every now and then, but I work hard every day to believe in myself and to know that I really am awesome 🙂 And so it is with the characters in this story. Once someone else believed in them and gave them what they thought they needed via magic, all of them became happy.
The Wizard of Oz amused me the most, as all the movies these days seem to spend the story glorifying him and showing what a great and terrible wizard he is, but really, he’s just a nobody who was pretending to be a somebody. Granted, he did some good things for the land of Oz by building the city and taking care of the people, but it was kind of a sham because he wasn’t doing it honestly as himself. He put on a mask and used tricks to convince the people to do what he wanted. Really, it’s Dorothy who is totally awesome and I don’t know that the media ever really gets that right.
Overall, this was a fun, light-hearted adventure story that was very well written. The story moved very quickly and I enjoyed it greatly. I am very glad I own this book and will likely read it again many times in the future.