The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz cover

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum was one of those children’s classics that I hadn’t got around to reading, until last week. Of course I have seen the film umpteen times, but the book is quite different which is just as well as it would have to have been double the length otherwise.

The first time I saw Toy Story it struck me that it was just a remake of The Wizard of Oz. It had the same moral.

There’s not much else to say about the book other than it’s well written and an enjoyable read and I will read the sequels. I was surprised that the book was first published in 1900, I hadn’t realised it was that old.

Otherwise I was really chuffed to discover that Baum was of German/Scottish/Irish and English ancestry. I have a theory that the vast majority of children’s classic literature has been written by people with Scottish blood in them, a consequence of what happens to people when they are brought up in a strict Presbyterian atmosphere, the imagination goes into overdrive. In Baum’s case he was brought up a Methodist, a similarly strict variety of Christianity.

I read this one as part of the Classics Club Challenge. I wasn’t sure if I should count it towards it as it’s a children’s book – but then I thought – why not?!

6 thoughts on “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

  1. This is an interesting review and book choice. I have never even seen the movie, only little snippets when my children were young and watched it. Your review makes me give serious thought to reading the book. And, I really find your comment about children being raised in strict Presbyterian atmospheres very thought provoking. It does seem to require severe limitations of one kind or another to allow/force creativity to flourish. I love reading about the personal lives of great authors and artists.


    • Paula,
      I just assumed that everyone would have seen the film so I didn’t say much about the book. I’m sure that it can’t be a coincidence that so many Scottish Presbyterians (often the sons or grandsons of ministers) wrote such imaginative children’s classics. R.L. Stevenson(Treasure Island), J.M.Barrie(Peter Pan), A.A. Milne(Winnie the Pooh), Kenneth Grahame(The Wind in the Willows), Edgar Allan Poe had a Scottish father and step-father and went to school in Scotland for a number of years… I think Vincent van Gogh also had a very strict upbringing – it would make a good PhD thesis for someone!

  2. It definitely counts as a children’s book in my opinion! I’ve never read it either, although I had it in the house throughout my own children’s childhoods. Your observations about strict/religious childhoods and creativity are interesting and made me think of the Brontes – who as children, created entire fantasy kingdoms of course. And Louisa May Alcott (citing her simply because I’ve so recently published my review of O-F Girl) had a repressed/religious/strict childhood – albeit of a different variety. Fascinating!

    • Sandra,
      I really think that it seemed to give people a wonderful imagination if their real life was quite miserable and constricted. It probably stopped them from going mad! I’m going to load some Alcott books onto my Kindle, I’ve only read the usual four.

  3. I certainly did not have a restricted upbringing, despite being raised in a Presbyterian family. That was because my mother was liberal with her love and spoiled me, the younger of two. But when I was in high school, I was miserable. I used to sit in class and write short descriptions of places I’d rather be, sort of like tiny screenplays: a man sits at a table in an old-fashioned kitchen, the clock ticks, rain pelts the windows, etc. So I think there is something in the restricted / creative thing.

    • Joan,
      Ah – you had your restrictions at school. High school for me was much less restrictive than home life, but somehow I never did get stuck into that imaginative writing – too lazy probably.

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