Many people have been talking about the 'great American novel' and I think I have found it in this wonderful little book about the wonderful wizard of Oz. Unfortunately this book has drifted into the mists of the unknown thanks very much to Hollywood and the exploits of Judy Garland.
In fact whenever we think of the Wizard of Oz this immediately comes to mind:
However the main reason that I decided that I would try to get my hands on this book was not so much because I wanted to read the book that was behind the movie, but rather that I wanted to read the book behind Wicked.
Mind you, when I picked the book up from my local library I discovered that the first thing that I fell in love with was the cover (as can be seen on the edition that I read).
The funny thing was that in the introduction Frank L Baum says that when he wrote this book he simply wanted to write a children's book without any moralising because children get enough moralising in the class room. However, the book does have a theme coming out of it and a very important lesson that all of us can learn. It is the same theme that Hollywood faithfully brings across to the movie: that that which we believe that we may lack we actually have in spades and that which we spend ages searching for may be right in front of us.
The movie itself is not all that faithful to the book because the events in the book seems to go on after the film would have finished. For instance the whole scene where Dorothy confronts the Wicked Witch is halfway through the story, and when the wizard disappears in his balloon there is still a quarter of the book to go. In fact after the Wizard leaves Dorothy, with her friends, goes on another quest to find the Witch of the North so that she can find a way home (and once again it turns out that the way home was in front of her all along).
Another interesting thing about this book is that once again it is a pre-Tolkien fantasy novel. What we have is Dorothy being whisked away to an unexplored part of the world where magic still exists and technology is non-existent. Dorothy also takes the part of the adventurer, collecting food as she goes along and helping people out on the way, as well as meeting her companions that join her in the adventure.
However, the thing that stands out the most at the end of the book is when Dorothy realises that she could have gone home straight away but the reason that this knowledge was hidden from her was because there were tasks that she had to complete. She helped Scarecrow find his brain, Tin Man find his heart, Lion to find his courage, and also freed the land of Oz from the Wicked Witch. In that there is a lesson for all of us because sometimes we may find that we are trapped somewhere but maybe the reason that we appear trapped is because there is a task that we need to complete (and in many cases that task is unknown to us until it has been completed) and when we finally escape we realise that the way out was there all along.