Author: L. Frank Baum
Narrator: Anne Hathaway
Publication Year: 1900 (this audio version: 2012)
Pages: 259 (audio length: 3 hours 52 minutes)
Genre: Fiction, Classics
Source: Audiobook version purchased from Audible.com
From the cover:
Follow the adventures of young Dorothy Gale and her dog Toto as they get swept away into the magical land of Oz , where they encounter characters and places you may remember from the movie – and several more that never made it to the big screen – on an unforgettable journey to the Emerald City.
Even though I knew that the movie was based on this book, I had never gotten around to reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I spotted it a while back on Audible and noticed that it was narrated by Anne Hathaway – who I love! – but didn’t decide for sure to pick it up until it appeared on the nomination list for the Audie Awards.
So this past weekend, I listened to the book in less than two days. It’s not a long book, but it’s definitely a book that feels as though it should be read all at once. You could probably read it to a kid split into sections, but for adult reading, it’s definitely a one-or-two-sitting read. I’m also glad that I hadn’t watched The Wizard of Oz recently, because it might have thrown me for a loop how many things were different. For example, the Wicked Witch of the West is not as much of a primary character as I had expected. She’s barely in any scenes at all! The film definitely isn’t a strict adaptation of the book.
To be completely honest, I think that this is the first time that I’ve ever preferred a movie to the book it was based on. Perhaps it’s that I love musicals, or maybe it’s just that it’s the version I grew up with, but I felt like the original text lacked something. The book is more a story about a fantastical world and less a story with an antagonist that Dorothy must fight against to defend herself. And the connection between the “real” world and the land of Oz doesn’t have the same connotations as in the movie, something that for me, was always one of the key features.
Having said that, I would still recommend that people read this book. It’s still a very interesting story, it just isn’t completely the same story as that of the movie. And if you’re going to read this book – or particularly if you’re planning on reading it to a child – think about using this version. Anne Hathaway shines in this audiobook. I’m not usually one for dramatic readings of books, but the characters in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz definitely deserve that treatment to bring themselves and the story to light, and Hathaway does great justice to it all. The range of her voice and the many unique characterizations that she has created for this book were a large part of why I was so enthralled with it and wanted to read it all at once. She made the story and the characters spring off the page and come to life, in a fun and whimsical, yet ultimately respectful, way.