It’s difficult to separate this classic American children’s novel from the phenomenally successful film, but I’ll try.
First published in 1900, the story is about a little girl, Dorothy, whose dull life in Kansas prairie land is interrupted when a cyclone whisks her and her dog Toto to the magical land of Oz. There, she meets many weird and wonderful characters as she goes on a quest to find the Wizard and ask him to send her home. It’s not that she particularly likes home, but her Uncle Henry and Aunty Em will be worrying about her.
The novel has that confident, unpatronising tone which distinguishes the best children’s fiction. It is definitely one of those books that adults can enjoy reading too. The story does have strong moral values but the same time, it’s not sentimental and has some darker moments which are reminiscent of the Grimm tales, although at no point is it frightening. The Wicked Witch of the West, for example, is afraid of the dark, so she’s not really scary at all!
If you haven’t read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz already and you’re a fan of the film, do give it a try. I downloaded the first edition with original illustrations by W W Denslow from the Project Gutenberg website.