When my husband called me into his home office to look at something on the computer, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Usually it’s something about computers, or the internet, or something equally geeky that he knows I’ll like and wants to share. But to my surprise, it was a movie trailer – for the new Oz movie.
My name is Jane, and I am an Oz-fanatic.
I have loved Oz since I first saw the 1939 movie as a small child in the 1960’s. It came on every year in the spring, and I always anticipated it eagerly. It became even better when we got a color TV. I was as amazed as Dorothy when she opened that door into Munchkinland.
The summer between second and third grades held an even bigger treat. No doubt realizing that my love of the movie would translate well into the world of books, my mother replied to a special offer and got me seven of the fourteen books L. Frank Baum wrote about Oz. These were sturdy, library-bound Reilly and Lee hardcovers, made to withstand years of hard reading. They weren’t in order; I received the first, second, fourth, etc. But I didn’t care. I was enthralled. A big box of books had come for ME!
Now, I wasn’t a reluctant reader by any means, but at the end of second grade, I was only just venturing into chapter books. The Oz books were a bit of a step. So my mother, ever the teacher, devised an evil plan. She would read me the first chapter of an Oz book, and then leave me with the book, after refusing to read any more to me.
It worked. By the end of the summer, I had read most of the seven and loved Oz more than ever. And although I didn’t read much other speculative fiction until I was in college (besides a battered copy of Andrew Lang’s Blue Fairy Book and C. S. Lewis’ Narnia series), the hook was truly and deeply set, and I eventually became a ravenous reader of science fiction and fantasy. Writing it followed.
Over the years, I read other volumes from the series. (For some reason, we never had a chance to purchase the rest of the series. I once asked my mother about this, and it had puzzled her, too.) I found a few at the public library, and others at book stores. To this day, I still don’t have the entire set in hardcover, but I was more than happy to fill my gaps when they reissued the entire series as paperbacks. There were Oz books by several other authors, too, and I found a few of them and read them. I got the entire Baum series, The Complete Wizard of Oz Collection (All 15 books) With table of contents, too, when I got my Kindle.
I read Philip Jose Farmer’s book, A Barnstormer in Oz, when it came out in the 1980’s and enjoyed it. I found the new take on my old friend Oz delightful. I didn’t have any problem with new embellishments to my childhood memories, perhaps because I have always seen Oz as a fantastical place where anything can happen.
I am ashamed to say that I have not yet read Gregory Maguire’s Oz books. I keep meaning to, and will someday. I have the first of them, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (Wicked Years), all ready to go on my Kindle. I hear great things about them, and I imagine I will be delighted with the new additions to the world that I have loved since childhood.
The new Oz movie looks like fun. It’s a back story, telling the story of the Wizard before Dorothy comes to Oz. I saw an interview with two of the stars, and it turns out they read and loved the Oz books as children, just as I did. That alone gives me great hope for this film.
Sam Raimi is directing the movie, and as a long-time fan of his, I am looking forward to seeing what he can do with it. And as for special effects – well, Oz was made for CGI.
I can’t wait to see what happens! In the meantime, I can re-read my Oz books and make a dent in the Maguire books, too.