One of those fantasy classics which I had never actually read, though of course I’ve seen the 1939 film numerous times. Naturally the first thing that strikes me is the number of differences between the two:
- Dorothy is much younger in the book – the original Denslow illustrations show her as a very little girl, Alice-size or smaller.
- She is also more passive than in the film (which gives the scarecrow, lion and woodman a bit more character development).
- Oz is a distant part of our world, not a dream (so Uncle Henry and Auntie Em have to rebuild their house after the cyclone removes it).
- The Kansas section at the start of the book is very short, and the section at the end even shorter (half a page).
- The Wizard interviews the four travellers separately, when they arrive in the Emerald City, and appears different to each of them.
- The Emerald City isn’t all that green – residents and visitors are forced to wear green-tinted spectacles.
- The magic shoes are silver rather than red.
- Dorothy and friends encounter a country populated by living china figurines and another populated by sinister “Hammerheads”.
- There are no songs.
It is generally pleasantly and confidently well-written, and I’ll pass it on to nine-year-old F with a strong recommendation; I think he will enjoy it, and I can see why it is a classic.