W.B.’s Book Report: The Wizard of Oz

We’re not in Kansas anymore.

People come and go so quickly here!

These things must be done delicately …

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!

I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog, too!

How about a little fire, Scarecrow?

Are you hinting my apples aren’t what they ought to be?

Put ’em up … PUT ’EM UUP!

Shucks, folks, I’m speechless.

I am the great and powerful …

… And without thinking, I banged out 10 quotes that you can use the next time someone posts that meme “Give me a quote that people will instantly know what movie it came from.”

In his introduction to The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum said he hoped to create “a modernized fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the heartaches and nightmares are left out,” and his story of the little girl from Kansas who finds a magical land far from home has become just that. A handful of the phrases above — not in Kansas anymore, the man behind the curtain, for example — crop up in everyday conversation from time to time.

Of course, his legacy is greatly enhanced by the 1939 movie — there’s no reference to Oz being “Over the Rainbow” in the original book, of course, and the screenplay adds and subtracts a lot from the book. In either incarnation it’s a wonderful story about how we often find we already possess what we’re looking for — the scarecrow who wants a brain solves several puzzles along the journey; the tin man who wants a heart is one of the most compassionate travelers of all; and the cowardly lion who seeks courage acts courageous over and over again.

And who can resist a story where the great and powerful ruler of the land turns out to be a humbug?

I have owned all 14 of Baum’s Oz books since the 1970s, but I can’t remember ever reading more than two or three of them. With one of my Audible credits, I bought an audiobook of all 14 not long ago, so I’m planning to rectify that during upcoming commutes. We need a little fantasy in our lives, and Mr. Baum was all too willing to help us along that way.

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