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L. Frank Baum and The Wizard of Oz

Updated on September 27, 2014

L. Frank Baum

  • Lyman Frank Baum born May 15, 1856 in Chittenango, New York.
  • Children’s Author, Playwright, journalist
  • Other names Baum used: Edith Van Dyne, Floyd Akers, Cpt. Hugh Fitzgerald, John Estes Cooke, Laura Bancroft, Schuylerl Staunton, Suzanne Metcalf
  • Happy childhood with nine siblings
  • At age 12 he was sent to Peekskill Military Academy for two years
  • First started with the printing of "The Rose Lawn Home Journal"
  • Died in 1919 from a stroke

Land of Oz Series

One memory of my childhood that stands out to me is when I went in to the school library and read each one of the Wonderful Wizard Of Oz series that was written by L Frank Baum. This was really my introduction into the fantasy realm; I read this before I had even read any of the Shannara books written by Terry Brooks.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published in the year 1900. There were thirteen other magical books about the Land of Oz after that. These start with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Marvelous Land of Oz and Ozma of Oz, and end with The Magic of Oz and Glinda of Oz.

There have been so many adaptations of the books, movies, and plays that I thought it would be nice to make this information available to everyone because although there are many great versions of this story and land (Wicked by Gregory Maguire), Frank Baum must be honored for his achievement in creating a magical place for us all to linger in and cheerful, fun characters for children to enjoy.

Where Is Oz? and the Story Behind It

In case you really have no idea what the "wizard of oz" is or where it is located, I guess I can help you with that.

After the book series by L. Frank Baum was written, the movie The Wizard of Oz came out. This was a huge deal as it was made with Judy Garland as the star, and color television(Technicolor) was just blooming on the horizon.

The story based on the the movie is: Dorothy and her dog, Toto, live in Kansas. There was an awful tornado and they were swept up with the house and flown through the air. When they land she is greeted by a beautiful and colorful land and small people called the munchkins. She also discovers that her house has landed on a witch which then prompts the witch's sister to come after her for the ruby slippers; Glinda the Good (a witch) has magically put them on Dorothy's feet. Confused yet? Well, there is more!

After that Dorothy finds out she has to travel down the yellow brick road to find "Oz the Great and Powerful, Wizard of Oz" so that she can go home. Along the way she meets some friends and has some encounters with the wicked witch. Finally she sees the "Wizard of Oz" who then tells her she has to kill the wicked witch first. Of course this has to have a happy ending and she finally makes it home.

The story based on the book: There are a few differences like the "ruby" slippers are actually silver, and Dorothy does not see the Wicked Witch until almost the end. Other than that they are very similar, so much so that I can pcik out actual phrases they say in the book and movie.

As for where it is? You can make your own judgement on that! I have always thought of it as a land that was somewhere over the rainbow because of the song Dorothy sings at the beginning of The Wizard of Oz movie. In the books it is described as being across a huge desert that can't be crossed (unless you have some magical help) and beyond the Kingdom of Ev which is by the sea. Wherever it is, it is magical place to be.

All original books
All original books | Source

The Characters of Oz

From the very beginning, the characters that developed throughout the series are one of a kind and completely original. Even though Dorothy is just a girl from Kansas. there are good and bad witches, along with many other lively characters that you don't really see in the movie.

The China people in their little town actually appear in the end of the first book, but unlike the new Oz The Great and Powerful movie where the tiny china girl needs to be mended with glue, there are other similar characters that need help. If you watch the new movie Oz the Great and Powerful, you will see that it actually takes place before Dorothy and her friends arrive in The Wizard of Oz.

There are different parts to make up the whole Land of Oz which all lend interesting and bright characters to the story. These become much more important as the series progresses.

In the second book, The Land of Oz, the story starts with a boy that makes a pumpkin head whcih he then attaches to a stick body. Then an evil witch made it come alive. These are simple yet so crafty and original; they are perfect for the young, young adult readers or children being read to at night.

Hopefully it will be in Imax Theater again!

Other Variations and Reproductions of Story

Adapted for a broadway musical in 1902

Gregory Maguire - most famous for writing "Wicked" which is also a play in the theater. This is a series that is loosely based on the characters like the Lion.

Oz the Great and Powerful - Newest movie came out in 2012

TV Show series- more and more are coming out daily

Translations throughout the world, including Russia and India

About the Original Wizard of Oz Movie

  • came out in 1939 with stars Judy Garland, Frank Morgan and Ray Bolger
  • directed by Victor Fleming
  • screenplay written by Noel Langley
  • won two Oscars for music, six other awards and four nominations

I have to say that while comparing this movie to the original book, the movie really stands out and is better in a few different ways. The music and songs really became almost a part of my life, I have sung at least two of them at random occasions as a child. They are the kind that any child delights in because of the easy to remember lyrics “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” has become a classic, one I sing to my daughter every night.

One other thing I enjoy about the movie is the beginning black and white part. It makes a much better introduction, as the book starts off in the midst of a tornado it seems. I always thought the idea of the characters (scarecrow, tin woodsman, lion)that tie into the characters of her home life (Aunt Em, Uncles) was really interesting. I also think it was a great move for the writer/director to put the Wicked Witch of the West closer to the beginning of the movie.


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    • erinb62 profile image

      Erin Buttermore 4 years ago from Laconia

      I am so happy you liked it!

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 4 years ago from Taos, NM

      Great article! I have always loved The Wizard of Oz bothe book a d movie. I have never read the other books in the city or seen the Broadway show Wicked though I have heard it is wonderful. Thanks do much for your review of the book and I so enjoyed reading this!