First Pages: Wizard of Oz
First Pages/First Lines of Wizard of Oz:
The Wizard of Oz was the first book that Mini Me read on her own. She (mostly) taught herself how to read: one day she couldn’t read, and then two weeks before kindergarten she just decided to put all that knowledge together. By October, she was reading the entire Wizard of Oz series. You didn’t know there were more books besides Wizard of Oz? I admit that until Mini Me, I didn’t know either!
To be honest, I’m not sure how much she gleaned from her first read of the novel. She read it on her own while I was chasing Little Lion (a toddler at the time) around. But, she read them over and over again. She even had her sixth birthday party as a Wizard of Oz theme, complete with an Emerald City cake. And though she dressed up as Dorothy for Halloween, for her party she was Scarecrow all the way. Little Lion was the tinman, Mr. Bookworm was the Lion, and I was the Wicked Witch, who we would later come to know as Elphaba. Yes, Wicked toured when Mini Me was eight years old and we were delighted to see it, especially as we knew NOTHING about it except that it was related to Wizard of Oz. So we had NO spoilers and could enjoy the magic of storytelling fanfiction.
Mini Me and I also sat front row when the musical production of Wizard of Oz came around. Not to mention we saw the local high school production too.
So to say that The Wizard of Oz has a special place in our hearts is a definite UNDERSTATEMENT.
The last time that I read Wizard of Oz was when I was still a child. I’ve read (heard) bits and pieces when Mini Me was younger when she’d read aloud her favorite parts or a section that particularly delighted her. As I recall, Ozma of Oz was her favorite of the series. So it’s been a while since I read the first pages. The beginning starts off a bit dry for me, except for the fact that in the eyes of my eight year old self, I think I would have loved reading about prairies and Kansas since it was so different than what I grew up with in California. And I was a huge fan of the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. (Yes, I do note that a lot of people protest Wilder’s writings as racist. And they likely are—I haven’t re-read them. But they also were a sign of the times of her upbringing and I think can still provide good teaching points. As well as bring up good discussions about misgivings and judging people who don’t look like us or don’t come from the same cultural background. Just like Wicked really shows how Elphaba is ostracized mostly for the color of her green skin. )
So, yes, the first pages are very descriptive and a bit dry but I admit that I am pulled in right away. And, since I grew up in the suburbs, the talk about the farm likely intrigued eight year old Melanie very much. Plus, there is foreshadowing about the cylcone and right after this opening, we are literally taken to another land that contrasts starkly with the opening pages. (You may recall that the film version starts in black and white for the Kansas scenes and then opens up into full color once Dorothy lands in Oz.)
I think that my younger bookworm self would have much in common with Little Lion and Mini Me. Though I didn’t have as many choices as they do now, I did avidly love to read about worlds that were different than my own, especially ones that involved an adventure.
BONUS: We found the amazing Marvel graphic novel version of The Wizard of Oz in one of the independent bookshops in Denver. I find it to be engaging and beautifully illustrated. The first pages of the graphic novel are shown below.
First Pages note: I started the First Lines and First Pages series in November 2017 as a homage to National Novel Writing Month. In the tradition of one of my previous writing groups, I decided to 'share' the first lines of successful middle grade and YA novels in order to figure out what made them successful first pages. I posted as many as I could in November, and now post the series on the first of every month (or close to it). Please let me know in the comment section if you have any First Pages book recommendations.