L. Frank Baum
George M. Hill Company, 1900 213 pages
While chasing her lovable, yet rambunctious, dog Toto, Dorothy get swept up in a twister that whisks her from her desolate Kansas farm to the faraway Land of Oz Much to Dorothy's surprise, the house parks right on top of the Wicked Witch of the East. The kind Witch of the North and the residents of the land, the Munchkins, greet Dorothy and celebrate the demise of the terrible tyrant. Dorothy takes the dead witch's silver shoes and travels down the road of yellow brick, which leads to the Emerald City, where the Great Oz can grant her wish of returning to Kansas. Along the way Dorothy meets a Scarecrow in need of brains, a Tinman in need of a heart, and a Lion in need of courage. The three new friends face many perils and tricky situations as they journey along, finally reaching their destination. Oz does not immediately grant their wishes, but sends them on another even more dangerous task. Will the team succeed in that which Oz has demanded? Will they all achieve the dreams for which they have traveled to the Emerald City? Will Dorothy ever make it back to Kansas?
Classic month continues as I have re-read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in preparation for a book club. Often thought of as the first "modern" children's book, this title was an immediate bestseller, eventually spurring sequels and adapted to the stage and screen. Certainly a member of the classic cannon of children's books, it is beloved and has become part of overall American culture. Although one hundred and twenty years old, the book continues to be enchanting and magical. The language is certainly dated, but it reads like a fairytale and is, indeed, now part of the American folkloric tradition. The Wizard of Oz begs to be read-aloud and is a comforting a cozy choice for families to share together. The story is sweet, yet danger is around every corner. Our feisty characters react to every situation with common sense, teamwork, and fierceness. Readers are in on the joke that the characters already possess what they seek all along and will cheer once they finally get the confidence to believe it themselves. Richer than the movie, there are full chapters that Hollywood left out, including The Dainty People, which is my favorite bit. As part of the American conscience as apple pie, Dorothy reminds us the "There is no place like home" and demonstrates the power of loyalty, kindness, friendship, and that good always will overcome evil.