As part of an ongoing series of Wizard of Oz related posts in honor of the movie’s 80th birthday this year (on August 25th, 2019) to be exact, here are the top three things that we learned from the books, that we didn’t get from the movie.
Lesson from Oz # 1: The Adventure Continues…
Since the 1939 movie ends with Dorothy’s safe return home, we always imagined the adventure to be a singular one. Since reading a few of the Frank Baum novels, on which the movie was based, the kids and I have come to know that the adventure continues beyond Dorothy’s jaunt through Oz.
I love the idea that it’s not over, and that we can always try an adventure again. Although the other stories don’t center exclusively on Dorothy, it’s great to be able to visit this fantastical place with other guides. In the end, the reader is the adventurer going on an exploration both of their inner and outer reality. I so enjoyed seeing which characters I liked the most, which ones I didn’t connect with as much and how Oz itself changed depending on which character I was travelling with.
Lesson from Oz #2: Express Gratitude Concretely
At our house, we’re really trying to get a gratitude practice ingrained in our family routine. Almost everyday, we each write in our own journals (baby ‘draws’) 3-5 specific things we’re grateful for from that day. It’s a disciplined practice and we fall off the wagon often enough, but we’re still keeping at it. I was inspired by all the talk about how important a concrete gratitude practice is for your emotional well-being. As family we’ve seen the benefits on turning our attention to what is uplifting, good, just, and beautiful. It becomes a mind-shifting habit that that helped me throughout my day. When something doesn’t go well, I see that it’s become a habit to look for what is good in that situation. This is a spiritual benefit that can sometimes become material.
In the Oz books, a set of characters called the Winkies, make gifts for Dorothy and her three friends as tokens of gratitude and friendship. These little guys don’t appear in the movie. They are gold-smiths and they give our beloved characters some beautiful gifts to send them on their way.
I love that their tokens of gratitude are concrete. This fact reminded me that although the spiritual benefit of focusing on the good can bring concrete results to my family, showing our appreciation for people around us in concrete ways is important too!
Lesson from Oz #3: It’s the little things
As any lover of books will know, you can’t beat the written word for conjuring up vivid details. In the novels by Frank Baum, the little details shine and the descriptions of nuanced interactions grab your attention. The devil, and the beauty, is in the details. Reading stories about a place and characters that I think I know pretty well, reminds me that as we’re working our way through the series of novels I’ll be discovering things about my ‘friends’ that I hadn’t known before. There’s only so much you can get in to a roughly 2 hour movie. There is much more that Baum wanted us to know about his fantastical world, and he has it in his books.
On this day of the movie’s 80th birthday, I’d like to encourage you to check our the books by Baum and give them a read. They are easy to get through and quite enchanting. I can see why he had rock-star status when they first started appearing in serial format in 1900. There are 14 in all. He had huge success beyond even J. K. Rowling’s with the Harry Potter series, if you can believe it. I think it’s time we revived a love for the books through the celebration of the movie.
Are you with me? Let me know if you’re going to start reading them (we could set up a virtual book club) or if you’ve already have, share your favourite details from the books.