Review published on November 29, 2017.
Several years ago, I purchased a few books from the ‘bargain bucket’ in Waterstones. One in particular has sat on my shelf ever since, until this morning that is. I awoke feeling a mite under the weather, so sought relaxation in my comfortable easy chair, and began to read the book after pulling it unsolicited from its resting place.
L. Frank Baum (1856-1919) was the author of one of the best stories known to children, and indeed adults. The initial book was further lauded by the film release in 1939 entitled ‘The Wizard Of Oz’. L. Frank Baum actually wrote 15 books in the ‘Oz’ series, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz being just the first one. The book I have just begun reading was published in 2005, an omnibus edition of the entire collection. Although a large-sized book in paperback, it is set out in such a way, that one could easily read these stories as bed-time reading by parents to their offspring.
I dare say that we have all seen the Judy Garland film at sometime in our lives, but the book has so much more to offer. One could argue that without the fantasy, visual aspect of the film, the story could well be somewhat tedious, but after reading just the first book, the imagination is fired, and Baum’s writing’s of descriptive detail are amazing. One does not need the singular film producer to colour our own imagination; your own mind can fill in the entire landscape for you simply by reading the narrative.
Indeed, it has flaws aplenty, it is a collection of fantastical, unbelievable, dreamy, and bright episodes, that paints a rich escapist view that goes against this modern world of seriousness. Good against evil always reads well, or if it didn’t, how would we understand the difference? Perhaps, we should take a moment to put ourselves into the minds of children, and experience the awe and wonderment that innocence can provide. I read the first story today at the age of 66, I should have read it years ago. It is pure bunkum, but rather wonderful at the same time. I intend to read slowly through the rest; it may take me some time.
Reg Seward 5/4
The Original “Oz” Series by L. Frank Baum
Shoes and Ships and Sealing Wax Ltd 9780954840136 pbk Jul 2005
Daniel Sevitt’s Ten Books and Why I Acquired Them