The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – Shelf of Abandoned Books

After all the support I got from you guys for my personal reading challenge, I started off with something fun and quite short that was not too hard to get into and read The W(h)onderful Wizard of Oz.

my German edition, which is just called The Wizard of Oz

my German edition, which is just called The Wizard of Oz

I don’t know why I had left this book alone for so long. Maybe I was too affected by the movie adaptations. You have to know, I’m more likely to read the book first, and then watch the movie. Sometimes I get tricked, though, by simply not knowing that there was a book on which the movie was based. (Hello, Fight Club!)

What else can I say: I loved The Wonderful Wizard of Oz! What a wonderful fairy tale about friendship and dreams. I like how light heartedly it tells us that we can be friends with all sorts of people, if we just try to understand them. We don’t have to be alike, we just have to like each other. Plus, I was surprised by one little detail: No ruby slippers! The shoes Dorothee is wearing are silver. The most iconic thing about Dorothee’s character, that always shows up in other movies or popcultural bits and hints at the original story, was made up by the filmmakers! I mean, I understand that red is certainly working better on screen than silver. But: Since everybody is associating ruby slippers with the whole story now, you cannot wear a Dorothee costume for Halloween and wear silver shoes with it, because everybody will ask who or what the hell you are supposed to be.

Okay, the killing bit of the evil witch(es)…in a modern children’s book the people would probably try to reason with the witch and in the end everybody would sign a contract. Some education scientists claim that children grow up with stories that have too many stereotypes, and therefore they will develop prejudices and simplified world views. The counter position roughly states that children up to a certain age need stereotypes because it gives their world sense and structure. They cannot yet think differentiated enough, so a black-and-white-view is easier to understand, the grey comes in later. (And in my opinion children learn pretty quickly that nobody is purely evil or purely good – just have a look at mummy. She gives you biscuits but she also forbids you to crawl inside the dishwasher.)

That was kind of an unexpected side trip – I guess my university years influence my reading. Most people who know me avoid watching movies with me because the philosopher part of my brain takes over and I start discussing the possibilities and consequences and ethics that were involved, if that movie we just saw was real or about to become real. Especially movies about war, science fiction and alternative societies are pretty rough.

Back to the book, then: I can’t even pick a favorite sequence, it is all just so sweet and uncomplicated. I think it is a perfect children’s book because it has the right balance of tension, suspension and relief. And maybe it’s simplicity and straightforwardness is good for adults once in a while as well. Worked for me. 😉

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