The Wizard of Oz is one of those stories that I hold near and dear to my heart. J has had a strong love of the story for a few years now, even going as far as having a Wizard of Oz themed birthday party when she turned 5. But her love of the story and the characters did not start with the movie, it started with the books.
When J was about 4 1/2 I had to take her to the doctor’s office one night. I happened to bring an illustrated version of the story that I had picked up at a used book store. I wasn’t sure is J was old enough to enjoy the story, but she instantly took to it. She read that book multiple times over the next few days.
Somewhere around this time we also had a 6 hour car ride ahead of us and I let her watch the film for the first time (which had been a gift to me when I left NYC for Kansas). I thought that she might be afraid of certain scenes, but again, no problem. She LOVED it.
The wonderful thing about the Wizard of Oz is that there are marvelous renditions of the story that are appropriate for developing readers. The version that we first read is 48 pages. It has lush illustrations but a lot of text.
The story stays very true to the original – silver shoes instead of ruby, Dorothy is protected by a kiss from the Good Witch of the North, there is a whole lot more traveling that needs to be done to get to Emerald City, they had to wear green glasses within Emerald City, and she has to travel to meet Glinda, the Good Witch of the South in order to return to Kansas and meets additional people on the way.
We have also read and re-read a wonderful version that is part of the series “Great Illustrated Classics.” The book is 240 pages and yet J has checked this out of the library more times that I can remember.
This story is timeless. Both J and her 2 1/2 year old sister sing the songs to the movie at the top of their lungs. We have actually put on the play in our living room and just this past weekend while on vacation in the mountains. I even started her love of Michael Jackson with getting her hooked on the music from “The Wiz.”
As a mom, I love some of the messages that are subtly told through this story. Dorothy always had the power to take herself home. You might think that you aren’t smart or courageous, but you have more strength within then you know. The love of family is a bond that cannot be broken. And trusting in your friends and friendship itself can make all of the difference in the world.
I grew up loving all of the other books in the series and even saw the not very good “Return to Oz” a number of times. I’m not sure when I will introduce the other books, I honestly want to take a look at them first.
Who doesn’t love Oz?