Category Archives: media

Return to Oz

Ozma of OzIf I don’t stop quoting Gretchen Rubin every four seconds, she’s going to have to start paying me residuals. But one of the tips from The Happiness Project that really stuck with me was this notion of reading for fun, something I admit I never do much anymore.

Since taking the plunge into the Kindle for iPhone (bless you Kristen for pushing me there), I’ve just finished BossyPants which pretty much makes me want to slice off my arms so I won’t be tempted to try and write again. Trust me, if you’ve ever thought of yourself as a funny writer, Tina Fey will put an end to that delusion in about four seconds.

Now that Thalia’s six, I’ve been looking for a chapter book to read with her. But I keep finding I pick them up and put them down, making me the bad parent who says “we’ll read chapter books together! It will be great!” and gets her all excited, then never follows through.

Shut up Harry Chapin, you with your stupid Cat’s in the Cradle song.

The truth is, I hate most of the ones written today. The writing is average, the jokes are stupid, the stories are forgettable, and I wouldn’t be friends with anyone exhibiting with those traits, let alone spending every night with them. At least boring friends get more interesting when they order Sangria. Books? Not so much.

And yes, I know it’s supposed to be about my girls and what they want to read. I guess I’m just not that benevolent.

That’s when I remembered Gretchen describing how much she loves re-reading children’s literature.

Flash back to the Oz series, only the very best children’s series in the history of all the world. Harry Potter? Please. L Frank Baum created the original magical world in 14 books, complete with talking animals, kind sorceresses, living paper dolls, an evil underworld Nome King, a Great Book of Records that records every event in the world as it happens (et tu, Rowling?), and best of all–a strong female heroine.

This is not the Judy Garland Dorothy with cute braids who breaks into song when she’s happy.

In fact, the slippers are actually silver. And Dorothy is blonde.

(Kansas. Duh.)

As a kid, I devoured the series, and I confessed as much to Nate when we first started dating. As an early Christmas gift (another reason I knew he would be my fella), he bought me three of the series, each reprints from the original with the same early 20th century font, the same gorgeous color illustrations. I couldn’t imagine them any other way.

This week, I knew it was time to pull them out. In fact, I was ridiculously excited doing so. And the only thing keeping Nate from rolling his eyes and making fun of me completely, is the fact that he bought them.

Over the last few nights, Thalia–and Sage to a lesser degree–has eagerly awaited bedtime, so that we can tackle two more chapters of Ozma of Oz. Three if I’m not totally exhausted. I’m seeing in her the same joy that I had as a girl, discovering magic and darkness and threats of bodily peril; and grappling with the brilliant possibility that somehow, an 8 year-old girl from the midwest could find herself adrift in a chicken coop in the ocean during a tremendous storm,  never once worrying that anything bad could come of it.

I have watched as my oldest daughter intently studies the same spectacular rendering of Ozma that is etched into my own memory, asking me to turn back to it every so often, so she can gaze into the eyes of the princess I bet she imagines is her best friend too.

Ozma of Oz illustration

With all due respect to Captain Underpants, I think I’ll take the Oz books right now.

Do you have a favorite childhood book you’d like to read again?