OZ


I am re-reading the OZ books–in order. I don’t think I have ever pulled this off because I usually skip The Wizard of OZ. Partly because it’s one of my least favorite OZ books and it’s not illustrated by John R. Neill, which makes it weird for me.
I was raised on the OZ books, as was my mother before me. In fact most of the OZ books we had when I was a little girl were my mother’s. My grandmother would read her children one chapter a night and was deaf to their entreaties for “just one more chapter.”
By the time my brother and I got through with them, most of our OZ books had lost their covers and the first few and last few pages, so that my mother had to just tell us the beginning and end of the stories, which she had pretty much memorized.
I have a vivid memory of lying in bed with my brother and my mother when she was reading us The Land of OZ. I was still a little too young for it and was both fascinated by and scared of the cover, which had a castle in the night with stars in the black sky.
To be honest, I was the one who trashed the books. Indulgent in some ways, our mother actually let us COLOR the pictures in the books. Thinking of this now gives me hives. At least they weren’t first editions. My brother was always careful, neat, chose pleasing colors and stayed in the lines. I was ridiculous. Basically just scribbled until the illustrations were hidden under thick layers of red or black waxy crayon.
But all my life in sickness, sorrow, depression, exhaustion, loneliness, I have turned to OZ and other “baby books” from my childhood for comfort. It’s why I finally realized I should write children’s books until I worked some unfinished business out of my innards. I am grateful to Books of Wonder for reissuing the OZ books in facsimile of the original first editions. They are glorious. My favorites were actually the ones Ruth Plumley Thompson wrote after Baum died. But right this minute I’m reading The Lost Princess of OZ, my favorite of the Baum OZ books. I have a pleasant fall to look forward to.

Re-Read 2007:
7-17: Wizard of OZ, The Marvelous Land of OZ, Ozma of OZ, Dorothy and the Wizard of OZ, The Road to OZ, The Emerald City of OZ, The Patchwork Girl of OZ, Tik-Tok of OZ, The Scarecrow of OZ, Rinkitink in OZ, The Lost Princess of OZ
1-6. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire, Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince.

Here’s an update of the 2007 list of read-for-the-first time books:

26. The Dark River, John Twelve Hawks, sequel to The Traveler. Did not inhale this one as I did the other, but toward the end decided it was pretty good.
25. Lottery, Forrest Gump wins the lottery.
20-24. Wit’ch Fire, Wit’ch Storm, Wit’ch War, Wit’ch Gate, James Clemens
19. Golden, Jennifer Lynn Barnes
18. Wicked Lovely, Melissa Marr
17. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling
16. The Echo Maker, Richard Powers
15. A Book of Common Prayer, Joan Didion
14. Special Topics in Calamity Physics, Marisha Pessl
13. Prep: A Novel, Curtis Sittenfeld
12. The Eiger Obsession: Facing the Mountain that Killed My Father, John Harlin III
11. Songs of the Humpbacked Whale, Jodi Piccoult
10. So Not the Drama, Paula Chase
9. The Fugitive Wife, Peter C. Brown
8. The Sea, John Banville
7. Looking for Alaska, John Green
6. I Capture the Castle, Dodie Smith
5. The Night Journal, Elizabeth Crook
4. The Ice Queen, Alice Hoffman
3. Blood and Chocolate, Annette Curtis Klause
2. Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman
1. The End, Lemony Snickett

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