August 17, 2013

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz versus The Wizard of the Emerald City

Our Coursera Fantasy and Sci Fi book club is discussing The Wonderful Wizard of Oz this week, and this was a wonderful excuse for me to finally read the book. Yes, yes, I have never read it before, but that doesn't mean I'm unfamiliar with the story. There is a wonderful retelling called The Wizard of the Emerald City by Volkov, which was one of the most favourite books of my childhood. I've already talked about it when I made a list of Russian classic children's literature, and now I want to make a list of differences between the two books, which I collected while reading. It was fun!

So, here are the ways in which The Wizard of the Emerald City differs from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz:
  • The girl's name is Ellie instead of Dorothy
  • No witch's feet visible, Toto just finds the shoes and brings them to Ellie
  • Toto speaks!
  • No magic kiss on Ellie's forehead, the shoes make her untouchable.
  • No difference in the prosperity of different munchkins.
  • There is a pretty intense encounter with an ogre in the forest. It is before meeting the lion, if I remember correctly.
  • There are sabre-toothed tigers instead of Kalidahs.
  • I'm pretty sure the tin woodman didn't cut a cat's head off to save the Mice Queen. Ellie just saves her from Toto's barking instead.
  • There are no fighting trees or china town. I also have vague remembrance that the fight with the spider is scarier.
  • Instead of telescopic neck the fighting guys are just very good jumpers. Less creepy.
  • Different colour and name design of the world. The witches all have names, which, I think is much better than a reference to their geographical location.

I have also got an impression that Volkov writes better than Baum, whose writing is too plain and repetitive to my taste. But maybe I'm just too grown-up now to enjoy the story as much as I enjoyed it when I was a kid :) But anyway, in my book Volkov undoubtedly wins!

Speaking of sequels, Volkov has 4 totally amazing ones and the last one that I don't like, and all of them are have nothing to do with Baum's stories. I remember taking some Oz book about a pumpking-head guy in the library, and it totally crept me out, so that I could not finish it. That's why I'm not sure I want to read more Oz books, but you know I love to be made change my mind, so I ask you: are there some amazing books in Oz series that you would recommend?

I'll finish the comparison with the two most famous maps of the two magic countries, because I love maps! Do you still have doubts which is better? :)


  1. I loved this review because my granddaughter is currently being read to by her parents as part of her bedtime. The one with the pumpkinhead guy--my son and I laughed about the sexism. Bibi is really enjoying them, however. Too young to find offense.

    1. Ha, I also don't remember any sexism... But I remember this guy was creepy and the adventures sucked... Although probably a 10-year old can't really appreciate them :)

  2. I love the Russian map version! I read all the Baum Oz books when I was a kid. They are weird, weird, weird. My favorite was the one with General Jinjur because she had an army of girl soldiers, but he was poking fun at feminists. I was just too young to realize! :D

    1. I love the idea of girl soldiers :) Volkov had wooden soldiers, which were probably much more manageable than the girl army :)


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