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?!

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

What’s she doing reading Charlotte’s Web? – I hear you say. Well it was another one of those tumbleweed moments for me and for some reason I never did read the book when I was wee. Why – I don’t know. Maybe I just didn’t fancy it because of the inevitable spider content.

Anyway, I rectified matters and read it and my copy has now been passed on to some wee people of my acquaintance. I think it’s probably just as well that I didn’t read the book as a youngster because it might have turned me into a vegetarian, for a while anyway, until the smell of bacon got too much for me. It would have driven my mother round the bend if I had gone vegetarian. I obviously missed a trick there.

It’s an enjoyable read at any age I think and I didn’t realise that it had been turned into a film too. I think it was called Some Pig. Another surprise was that it was written by an American, I had thought E.B.White was a Brit, you live and learn. He was a farmer and he lived in Maine.

When my boys were wee, we did have a pet spider which lived in our kitchen, at the bottom of one of the window frames. He – the boys decided it was male – was named Cornelius by them, after a footballer. He was small, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to put up with him, and he eventually disappeared to pastures new – or died, which is more likely I suppose.

If you’re lucky enough to have any grandchildren, this might be a book they would like to read.