Monday, September 16, 2013

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum

 The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum

Rating: 5 stars

We're off to read the Wizard, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  Because, because, because, because...because Mommy said we are!

Now you'll have the song stuck in your head all day.  You're welcome.

I read this book aloud to our kids--Lorelei, 6 1/2; and Ben, nearly 5.  Kiefer, 2 1/2, snuggled up with us many nights, too, learning by example that this is what you do at night: grab a book, listen closely, and snuggle up.  This was Ben's first read-aloud chapter book; Lorelei and I read the first 5 Little House books last year by ourselves.  Ben listened to a few pages of them but--not that he ever said this out loud--those books just didn't hold their interest.  To be honest there were times when I thought they were a little boring, too.

And this is my first time blogging on a chapter book that you can read aloud to your kids (or that older kids can read by themselves).  Hope that you like this addition--I'll be adding more to the "Read Aloud Chapter Books" section as well as early chapter books in the coming months.

Bottom line up front: Oz was great!  I chose it after the kids and I went downtown to the National History Museum this summer, and they got a whiff of all the Oz STUFF.  I bought the book there and we started reading it a night or two later.  I was unsure if it'd be a great fit, especially after the first chapter, when Dorothy's house falls and kills the wicked witch of the West!

But it worked.  Really, really well.  Here's why:
My note to Lorelei in her lunchbox today.
  1. This book is adventurous--each chapter the reader meets a different character, often far-fetched and silly, sometimes mean and a little scary.  It makes for fantastic a-chapter-a-night reading because something is always happening.  Danger (just the right amount!) was involved.
  2. This book is a classic--it's one that their teachers will reference for years to come, so it's good that they have this cultural stuff under their belt.  I've not yet explained why Dorothy's shoes are ruby red in the movie, but that historical significance is cool, too.
  3. This book has lessons upon lessons to teach--of course the Lion is looking for "his brave" as we say it in our house, the Tin Woodman is looking for a heart, and the Scarecrow is looking for a brain.  We talked throughout how they really do have these things but they don't reach inside themselves to use it.  And Ben would ask me out of the blue for weeks: Which is more important, Mommy, a brain or a heart? (The Scarecrow and Tin Woodman debate this briefly.)  He knows my answer: a heart.  In the end Dorothy finds out she could have left for Kansas again the moment the Silver Shoes were on her feet, but she didn't know the magic AND, more importantly, the timing wasn't right: Her friends needed her, she couldn't go yet, she had a few things to complete until she could.
  4. The book deals with real-life stuff in fantasy-filled ways.  The chapter or two on the Wicked Witch of the East are pretty dark; she's a nasty character.  The Wizard of Oz says he won't help them until they "destroy" (a few times they use "kill") the Wicked Witch of the East.  But aren't their nasty characters in their life (hopefully not in preschool and first grade but you get what I mean)?  I didn't remember this, but it is only by accident that Dorothy kills her by flinging water at her in anger.  Now the kids get my joke when it's raining and we have no umbrella: "Don't worry about it, it's not like we're going to melt!"

I'm pretty sure when Lorelei sees the ruby red shoes,
she'll choose to be Dorothy for Halloween, not Laura.

I'm so grateful that I spontaneously grabbed this book at the museum.  It's been a great fit for my kids, provided great conversation, and was just plain fun.  I had thought that we'd watch the movie together as a family when we were done but...I forgot about those winged monkeys.  It just so happens that there are some movie theaters nearby that are going to show the movie in 3D next week, but...can you imagine those winged monkeys in 3D, flying right at you?!  Neither can I.  We'll be watching it from the comfort of our own sofa sometime--probably later than sooner.

And if the song is not stuck in your head just yet, click here (and/or show this to your kids so they get a feel for the movie but they're not kept up with nightmares of winged monkeys):

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