Fanciful tales of imaginary lands typically entice people to suspend their disbelief. Incredible feats not possible within the limits of reality suddenly become as real as anything. Such activity is desired so as to escape the true horrors of the world that we happen to inhabit.
Dorothy is a Kansas farm girl who lives with her aunt and uncle. One day, a cyclone barrels through their farm and somehow transports her and her dog Toto off to an unknown realm that is known as the land of Oz. Apparently, her home landed right on top of the Wicked Witch of the East, who was wearing a pair of Silver Shoes. The Good Witch of the North instructs Dorothy to visit the Wizard of Oz who lives in the Emerald City. Following the yellow brick road, Dorothy gathers an entourage composed of a scarecrow, a man made out of tin, and a cowardly lion, each of whom desires a brain, a heart, and courage, respectively. The Wizard demands that before any of their wishes are granted, they must kill the Wicked Witch of the West. Eventually, Dorothy kills this witch, but upon returning to the Emerald City, the gang discover that the Wizard is a con artist who soon escapes Oz in a balloon. Glinda, the Good Witch of the South, soon thereafter informs Dorothy that she could have returned to Kansas at anytime because of the Silver Shoes, which she then promptly uses to return to her aunt and uncle.
The author really loves to describe the colors in this novel. Baum is very good at setting the mise-en-scène with his vivid descriptions of the landscape, the yellow brick road, the Emerald City, and even the Silver Shoes. I don’t know why, but for some reason Oz seems more vivid here than it is portrayed in MGM’s The Wizard of Oz (starring Judy Garland as Dorothy).
What also really got me was the style of dialogue. It was times quite poetic, particularly when the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion (in that exact order) would speak as a trio. Dorothy was absurdly polite, as were several of the other characters, such as the Queen of the Mice.
L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a work I recommend, particularly for homeschooled students. In a lot of ways, I enjoyed the original novel much more than the MGM 1939 film, which I felt left too much out. Project Gutenberg has made the novel available for free, and Librivox offers a free audiobook version.