Book #59

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Dorothy thinks she's lost forever when a tornado whirls her and her dog, Toto, into a magical world. To get home, she must find the wonderful wizard in the Emerald City of Oz. On the way she meets the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman and the Cowardly Lion. But the Wicked Witch of the West has her own plans for the new arrival... will Dorothy ever see Kansas again? 

Most of us in the Western world are familiar with Dorothy and her pals. It’s such a classic story, immortalised by Judy Garland, and so deeply loved. We’re familiar with her being swept up by the cyclone, landing in an unfamiliar and magical land, unintentionally killing a wicked witch in the process, and then seeking out the great Oz to secure her passage back to Kansas.

I was filled with nostalgia throughout - particularly when meeting Dorothy’s allies. Seeking brains, a heart, and courage, it was beautiful to see them exhibiting behaviours of all of these, despite not yet reaching the Emerald City. Is Baum saying our faults and lacks are all in our heads? Did these jolly old pals have what they needed all along? I like to think so.

Baum relies heavily on colours here, with Kansas depicted in shades of grey before Dorothy is plunged into a world of vibrancy. Dorothy’s only wish is to return to her family, to the drab greyness of home, and I couldn’t decide whether this was completely fathomless, or whether it spoke of family values.

Yes, it lacks a specific kind of suspense, there’s no real character depth (we need to look to Gregory Maguire for that), and it’s generally a very jolly tale pretending not to be grim and dangerous. But sometimes, this is what I need; something sweet, tender, and sentimental, something that will take me far, far away, to a place of friendship, and a place where you know anything can be overcome. There are no unhappy endings with these types of stories.