The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Audible Studios
Publication Date: 2012 Audible Inc. Book originally published 1900
Length: 3 hours, 50 minutes
Read by: Anne Hathaway
Source: Free Audible download

The Short Version:
A tornado lands young Dorothy Gale in the Land of Oz which is most definitely not Kansas.

Why I Read It:
When I got the email from Audible that they were offering this free I downloaded it. When I decided I wanted to read Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Die I decided to listen to the original book first.

The Book:
From Google Books:

In the first of L. Frank Baum’s time-honored Oz novels, country girl Dorothy Gale gets whisked away by a cyclone to the fantastical Land of Oz. Dropped into the midst of trouble when her farmhouse crushes a tyrannical sorceress, Dorothy incurs the wrath of the Wicked Witch of the West. Dorothy is desperate to return to her native Kansas, and, aided by the Good Witch of the North, she sets out for the Emerald City to get help from the legendary Wizard. On her way, she meets three unlikely allies who embody key human virtues—the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion.

My Thoughts:
I’m sure I read this as a kid but I sure didn’t remember much of it. I remembered it being quite different from the movie but the details have faded.

The book itself is an odd story. The interpretations of it as political and social allegory are well known but whether Baum really intended as that may or may not be true and honestly I don’t care. I was interested in the story and how it differed from the movie and to hear Anne Hathaway’s reading of it.

If I had a recommendation at this point it would be that if you want to revisit the original Baum story go the the library and pick up a print edition. Skip this audio version.

The story was quite different from the movie. The Wicked Witch of the West is almost a minor character. As in the movie there is a fair amount of violence for a children’s story. I really didn’t remember the Tin Man being such a whiner. I also didn’t remember that both the good witches make an appearance. Each area of Oz has a distinct population and is ruled by one of the witches. The munchkins from the movie are only a quarter of the story.

As for the audio production it started out OK and while I like Anne Hathaway fine as an actress but I will never listen to her narrate another audiobook. She seemed to try way too hard to give each and every character in the book a distinct voice and accent. There are far too many characters for that in this book. The Tin Man might have seemed like a big whiner to me because of the way she did his voice. The Scarecrow sounded exactly like Marge Simpson. Before Dorothy and her companions were falling asleep in the field of poppies Hathaway lost me completely. When the stork sounded like a Valley Girl out of the early 80’s I’d had enough. At that point Hathaway’s increasingly odd voice characterizations became a complete distraction from the story. The Guardian of the Gate in the Emerald City sounded like Daffy Duck and the Wizard himself sounded like an elderly Southern lady.

I only finished it because it was so short.

2.5 stars Rating 2.5/5 for the book

1 stars Rating 1/5 for the narration


SoundBytes is a weekly roundup of audio book reviews hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.