Oz in the News 3.10.17

Oz Books Can Teach Your Kids About Woke Politics And Colonial Crimes Since the day it became the best-selling book of 1900, the world has never been without The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. L. Frank Baum’s story about a Kansas girl who ascends via twister to a witch-plagued but otherwise perfect fairyland became a kid-lit classic long before the 1939 film, the most-watched motion picture ever, ensured Oz’s everlasting status. But Wizard was just the first of 14 Oz books by Baum, a series that provides a perfect introduction for younger kids to progressive politics like feminism, socialism, pacifism and multiculturalism. For older kids, however, the author’s racist writings about indigenous people outside of the books can be used as an entry point to discuss issues like colonialism and genocide.

Why I Still Walk the Yellow Brick Road I have the soundtrack on CD, a wind-up music box that plays “Over the Rainbow,” a vintage wallpaper lion decorating the nursery and, yes, I shelled out for the 70th anniversary ultimate edition Blu-ray boxset which not only includes the best-ever restoration of the 1939 musical but also the half-dozen silent Oz movies which preceded it and hours of documentaries on the film and phenom. And a couple weeks ago I brought my three-year-old son to see the musical, his first theatrical experience. But this isn’t just another geeky obsession. Or at least, not only. The Oz books were my dad’s favourite growing up. My sister was born while he, then a high-school acting teacher, was directing the play. My mom went into labour with me while watching it on TV a few years later. And three years after that, again during the Oz’s annual television screening, we got a call that my cousin had been born. In grade seven, I even played the wizard in our school play. So Oz has been a part of my life forever, and is a tradition I’m proudly passing on. But while the movie has been a part of our entire society’s shared experience since it became a TV staple in the mid-1950s — its unforgettable songs, unparalleled art direction, heart-warming scarecrow and bloodcurdling witch are now parts of modern folklore — there is so much more to Baum’s world.


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