#401 – The Wizard of Oz by Beth Bracken

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The Wizard of Oz

by Beth Bracken

Capstone Young Readers

4 Stars

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Back Cover:  Film stills and original dialogue from the beloved movie The Wizard of Oz tell the tale of a young girl named Dorothy, who flew over the rainbow with her dog, Toto, befriends a Tin Man, a Scarecrow, and a Lion on a Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City, and defeats a Wicked Witch before meeting the Wizard of Oz and learning that there’s no place like home.

Opening:  Dorothy Gale lived on a farm in Kansas, but she dreamed of a place that was over the rainbow . . . and after the twister lifted her house off the ground—spinning and whirling it until finally, it crashed back down—she wasn’t in Kansas anymore . . .

About the Story:  This is a shortened version of L. Frank Baum’s famous story, now adapted by picture book author Beth Bracken.  Dorothy and her dog Toto are in their house when a twister pulls it up from the foundation and drops into Munchkin Land, atop the Wicked Witch of the East.  Dorothy just wants to go home.  Good Witch Glinda zaps the dead witch’s red ruby slippers onto Dorothy’s feet before the dead one’s wicked sister—the one known as the Wicked Witch of the West—can take them, for whatever reason.

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The happy munchkins, free of the dead witch’s cruel ways, tell Dorothy to visit the Wizard of Oz.  Oh, just follow the Yellow Brick Road, they say.  She does, meets Scarecrow—needing a brain—a Tin Man—needing a heart—and a Lion—needing courage.  They all go to the Wizard of Oz, who demands a sort of payment from the four.  He wants the Wicked Witch of the West’s broom.  Oh, my!  The four somehow extract the broom from the wicked witch’s cold hands, return to the Emerald City, and Scarecrow gets a brain, Tin Man a heart, Lion courage, and Dorothy and Toto return home, but I cannot tell you how the Wizard of Oz grants their wishes (no spoilers).

What I Thought:   I have always loved The Wizard of Oz, having watched the movie each year for decades.  Oddly, I have never read the original book.  That nearly feels like treason.  Young children may have seen the movie but a book, or even that the story was first a book, may surprise them all.  Beth Bracken, who has written many picture books, adapted the story from its screenplay—, which adapted from the book—and shortened it for young readers.  The action is fast.  There is no time for any twists or turns.  This is the Wizard of Oz on steroids.  Kids who have not seen the movie will not know this.  In their case, the story is a fast-paced, somewhat scary bedtime story that cuts to the chase.

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This year is the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz, which is the impetus for this new edition.  I love the cover and most of the inside illustrations.  The illustrations are stop action from the original colorized film.  The blurred pages showing Emerald City and Dorothy and Toto leaving Munchkin Land by way of the Yellow Brick Road are both blurred too much for my liking.  That is not the author’s fault as the film is quite old.

The rest of the illustrations are marvelous, maybe too much so.  Many of the actors wear costumes that cover up their natural skin or hair.  The costumes are not like those one might have seen in Avatar.  The Scarecrow’s facial skin is two-toned and looks separated in some sections.  The same holds true for the Lion.  Again, kids may not notice this, but parents or anyone else that saw the film, may.  On a movie or television screen, the poor costume make-up—compared to today’s quality, which may also look subpar in 75 years—is not noticeable.

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The Wizard of Oz is a lovely tribute to L. Frank Baum’s classic story for a new generation of youngsters.  The glossy color pages are of high quality, relatively thick, and printed in the U.S.  After reading this picture book, young children will want to watch the movie version Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, the Lion, and little Toto defeat the Wicked Witch of the West and earn the most treasured items of their heart (well, except for the Tin Man, who didn’t have a heart . . . yet).  Maybe, unlike for me, youngsters should read L. Frank Baum’s story before watching the movie.  Excuse me please; I need to read a book I neglected to read some years ago.

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The Wizard of Oz

by Beth Bracken    website   blog   facebook    twitter

Capstone Young Readers   website   blog   facebook    twitter

Released August 1, 2013

ISBN:  978-1-62370-026-3

32 pages

Ages: 4 to 8

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Published by Capstone Young Readers, used with permission

© 2013 by Turner Entertainment Company

Capstone Young Readers is an imprint of Capstone Publishing

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DONATED TO LOCAL PUBLIC LIBRARY OR SCHOOL

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15 thoughts on “#401 – The Wizard of Oz by Beth Bracken

  1. Sue, I hope you fare better than I did, but no, I don’t think it’s the problem. I absolutely hated the writing style and content. To me, the people who worked on the film were creative geniuses, making the movie the masterpiece they did. To me, the movie was very simply “inspired” by the content of the books.

    And for most of my life, I saw movies before reading the books because I didn’t get back into books, heavily, until my mid-thirties. In this case, I sincerely felt the movie was better. There have been times I read the book after the movie and was able to understand the movie better, but still really enjoyed the book. That’s what happened with DANCES WITH WOLVES. I was obsessed with the movie. I think I saw it a good 7 times before it was out of the theaters. I THEN read the book and wasn’t disappointed at all. Anyway, I’ll be very curious to hear what you think of the WIZARD OF OZ. So many people loved it. I wasn’t one of them! lol

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  2. OK, now THIS is a WIZARD OF OZ book I know I’d like 🙂 Why? Because it’s the movie version, not the book’s!

    I have been a fan of the movie since I watched it, as a child in the 60s, every year when it was aired on TV (I think it was typically in March on CBS, but could be wrong!). I’ve always felt not only a nostalgic attachment to the film, but many metaphors that reflect my life. In other words, it’s precious to me. Of course, it was just plain enjoyable and fantastic to watch, too! 😀

    I hadn’t read any of Baum’s “Oz” series when I was a child. It wasn’t until I got heavily into the children’s book industry, as an aspiring writer/illustrator, that I finally read the first book. At the time, I was researching books adapted to film to see what changes were made and how true the films were to the original stories. In virtually EVERY instance, I have felt the movie adaptations distorted the stories or simply fell short, always having been disappointed (except the Lord of the Rings adaptations). The books were ALways better—except for the Baum book, certainly in my opinion. I had found a used copy for sale at the library, so purchased it, and finally read it. For me, literally from its first page, it was torturous reading. I pushed myself—and we’re talking “donkey” pushing—to get through it. I absolutely hated it :/

    Sue, you may have a different experience. I know many people who read it AS CHILDREN loved the series. I think that’s the key—you had to be a child to enjoy them. A first-time read as an adult is a much different experience, I think.

    I’m VERY happy to know of this new version though 😀 Thank you!

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    • I never read this as a kid, but I watched it each year. I think maybe watching the movie first would make it difficult to read the book, especially if one so loves the movie.

      We usually read the book first, because it is out first, and then we are disappointed in the movie because we know what is missing or done differently. I think the same may hold true in reverse when watching the movie first. “Where is this and why are they doing that when in the movie (or book), they did this and it was so much better.”

      I think this is the problem you are having. But I need to read the book to know for sure. I watched the Wizard of Oz every year as a child of the 60s, so I understand your point of view. I’ll take it as a challenge to read the book and see how I fare with it. I’ll let you know. 😀

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  3. I love the original story and the movie–pure classics. This book sounds really nice for a younger audience. The movie stills are a wonderful addition. Great review, Sue.

    P.S. I know where Munchkins Land is.

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      • Okay, I’ll prove it to you. You know where the big, crooked Spruce tree on top of the biggest hill is? Turn right, go about a quarter mile until you see the rock shaped like a giant carrot. From there turn south, and follow the wild-rose-bush path until you see the signs that say “Munchkin Land”. It’s right there.You will know because there is lots of munchkins.

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  4. I love love LOVE The Wizard of Oz. It was appointment TV for my cousins and me when it was aired once a year throughout my childhood. My 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Nelson read aloud to us every day at 3:00. The original Wizard of Oz was one of the many books she read. It was SCARY! We stepped out into the schoolyard checking the sky for flying monkeys! Fifth graders! Mrs. Nelson is the reason I became a teacher. And the reason I became a writer. I will buy this book.

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    • I know what you mean. Each year we all watched this movie without fail. I love it. The Wizard of Oz and The Sound of Music are my two yearly movie must sees. I hope you enjoy the book. 😀

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  5. This looks really cute! But I still like traditional hand drawn pictures more than movie stills (even if it’s a movie as wonderful and timeless as Judy Garland’s Wizard of Oz). 😉

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    • I agree in this situation. With the story as old as this, the movie stills are not always in the best condition. There are at least two large pictures that are completely out-of-focus. It is nice to see you again. 🙂

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