Classics Club: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Oz

  • Author: L. Frank Baum

I received the audiobook for free from audiobooks.com.

I enjoyed the story much more than I thought I would.  While I love the film adaptation, I had some initial reservations about the book considering I learned that L. Frank Baum wrote it as a political and economic statement in support of the Populist party who supported a bimetallic standard of gold (the yellow brick road) and silver (Dorothy’s silver shoes.  That’s right, they’re silver in the book, not ruby), instead of the Gold Standard.  However, I realized while listening to the book that, if there is some kind of statement at all, it’s not in any way obvious.

Maybe I missed something, though.  That’s possible for two reasons.  First, Brooke Shields narrated the book as if she were reading it to a very young child, and the majority of her male character voices were downright annoying.  Second, Dorothy has no agency.  She doesn’t do anything deliberately unless you count her following the instructions to walk down the yellow brick road to get to the Emerald City.  Everything else just sort of happens to her, or is an accident.  How did I miss that in the movie?!

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was written in 1900, and it was meant to be a children’s book.  These reasons are the only ones for why I forgive Dorothy’s lack of legitimate action.  She is technically the main character, however, so there’s that.  Putting Brooke Shields’ narration aside, I would recommend the book to anyone who wants a quick Classic to read or wants a Classic children’s chapter book to give to a kid who might enjoy it.

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