Having read my 4yo son the first Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind graphic novel this year, I thought it was time to advance to an all-words-no-pictures book and see if he could handle it. So I scoured my shelves in search of something fitting. Harry Potter? Hmmm not quite yet. The Witches? Bit scary. Alice in Wonderland? Too contrived.
Then I came upon an old faded copy of the Wizard of Oz that held much promise. Of course this story is extremely well-known, but here’s a quick synopsis just for the sake of hitting my review word-count!
Dorothy and her dog Toto live in Kansas and are swept up in a tornado (or cyclone as it’s called in the book). They awake in the Land of Oz amongst the munchkins and inadvertently murder the Wicked Witch of the East when their house lands on her. Dorothy gets some new kicks and commences her quest to go home, making a few friends on the way.
The Wizard of Oz turned out to be an excellent choice for his first novel, due to a number of factors:
- Each chapter is small enough to be read from start to finish before bedtime.
- Each chapter also has one crudely drawn but effective picture, which has helped keep the little guy engaged.
- The concepts are simple enough and the storyline contained and linear, so that we can do a quick ‘recap’ each night to make sure he’s keeping track of the story.
- The witches and flying monkeys are not as scary on the page as they are in the movie (no nightmares!).
- It differs enough from the movie that I’m enjoying it too!
The one word of caution is: there is a bit of violence throughout, usually under the Tin Woodman’s ax. This is not described in any lurid detail, but a beheading is a beheading. If you have a very sensitive child or abhor violence of all kinds, then be warned.
I have really enjoyed reading this book aloud. I’m now starting to wonder if the other Oz books might be worth a look-in next.
4 silver slippers out of 5.