No introduction or summary required here, I'd guess. Although, I have to admit, I went into the story with only the knowledge of the story I've gained from pop culture and, of course, the musical Wicked. I have never seen the movie. Not even once. We weren't allowed to as kids, I can't remember why, either because of witches or because it was too scary. And not having seen it as a child, I've just never gotten around to watching it. So my review won't have any comparisons to the movie adaptation, which I'd guess is what most people are familiar with.
There's a reason this is a children's literature classic. I thought the writing really transcended the time during which it was written (first published in 1900), which is always impressive to me. It doesn't read like an "old" book. It does, however, read like an amazing book. I fell in love immediately, especially with the Scarecrow. The characters are just incredible and I think their ability to exist in 1900 just as well as 2013 is remarkable characterization on Baum's part.
Again, the ability to transcend eras as far as writing style is concerned makes a big difference here. It doesn't read like an "old" book, which I think will increase its appeal to children. It's certainly one I plan on reading aloud if I have kids one day (and of course I always have George). Also, I think it makes an entertaining read for an adult audience. I'm glad I read it, not just for the cultural awareness I was lacking, but because it was a fun book.
And I would be absolutely remiss if I didn't mention the amazing illustrations in this particular edition. It is chock full of these and they are all gorgeous. This one has the Cowardly Lion meeting the Scarecrow.
A huge thanks to Harper Collins for providing this beautiful copy for me to review.