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The Oz Books and My Kids

So yesterday over on Facebook I asked everyone's opinion of what age would be good to read "The Wizard of Oz" to kids. (I mean the kids' age, not mine.) I had read the original 14 Oz books as a teenager when Ballantine Books brought out a new edition in the 1980s, and I loved them. Most recommendations for the Oz books place the age at a little older than my kids currently are, but I had the feeling that they might be receptive even this young.

Also, I had a rather odd incentive to get them started on these. Muffin discovered that the TV show The Fresh Beat Band apparently did a TV-movie where one of the characters goes to Oz, and she wants to see it. I did NOT want that to be my kids' introduction to the Oz books.

I also didn't want them to start with the movie. Frankly, the movie scared me when I was a kid, and as something of an Oz purist I don't like the fact that the silver shoes aren't in it (I know some of you may be asking, "What silver shoes?" thus making my point) nor the fact that the movie establishes Oz as a dream. The books make it clear that Baum does not intend for Oz to be a dream.

Enough of you who responded seemed to feel that the girls' current age would be appropriate, so I figured I'd give it a try. I asked Nomi to pick up a copy of "The Wizard of Oz" at the library, and by happenstance she picked up the one with the wonderful Michael Hague illustrations. (Denslow's are okay, but I thought the girls might respond better to the more colorful pictures.)

The upshot is that last night I started the book, and for the most part the girls were spellbound. They insisted I keep reading after chapter 1, so I got through chapter 3. Tonight, they made me read all the way through chapter 7 before they would go to bed. And the girls make me stop over and over so they can enjoy the illustrations.

I think we have a winner here.

(By the way, when we got to the part with the Kalidahs threatening Dorothy and company, I turned to Squeaker, who was a little nervous, and said to her, in essence, "She doesn't get eaten by the eels at this time.")



I am glad to know that my brother and I were not the only boys to read those books, though I don't think I want to revisit them. Though if I ever do, Batya owns them all. And just finished a re-read.
One of my biggest regrets in this life is letting my complete set of the 14 Baum Oz books go. I have the e-books now, and I can get new copies, but it's not the same as the books I first read.
I read somewhere that the silver shoes were changed to ruby slippers for the movie because the color would show up better on film. I will point out that in the movie version of The Wiz, the producers stayed true to Baum, and kept Dorothy's shoes a silver color.

And I think you nailed why I've always been . . . less than satisfied with the movie. I never liked the "it was all a dream" ending.
And then there's the abomination that they put out in 2014, which is so far off the real Oz it's criminal.
Not sure how old my kids were when I read them the Oz books, but they enjoyed them. #1 daughter has a bunch of them, and would probably be glad to lend them.

The "only a dream" ending bothered me too, but also the combining of the two good witches into one messed things up even more. In the book, the Witch of the North had no idea what the power of the shoes was. By combining her character with Glinda, they then had to give a really lame explanation for why she didn't tell Dorothy how to get home back at the beginning of the story.

December 2016

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