Got Oz books? Give them away

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Reading copies of Oz books, particularly newer reprints, tend to stack up around me. I can’t pass them up when they’re just a few bucks at an estate sale, bundled in an auction “lot,” or gifted to me by people who don’t know what else to do with them.  Does that happen to you, too? Don’t hoard them, do what I do; give them away.

Your local Ronald McDonald house likely has a few shelves of books for kids staying there to borrow. These are kids with a hospitalized sibling who would welcome the distraction of a Baum fantasy.  They have time for chapter books.  Check kids hospitals, community centers, and family homeless shelters to see if there’s a reading corner for kids.  My dentist office is a fine place for pop-up versions of Oz; they’re a quick scan to read mixed in with the puzzles and puppets provided for kids waiting with a parent — or to see the dentist themselves.  Those “little libraries” popping up in residential areas can always use a paperback Oz book.

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As Oz books have occasion to pile up around me, I’ve become accustomed to finding where I can just leave them.  No approvals or paperwork, just slide them on the shelf. I’ve sent Oz books to school libraries where I’ve spoken, vacation spots with shared community areas, even senior centers where an elderly friend might enjoy revisiting his or her youth.

Personally, since I like to promote the Oz Club, I put a transparent sticker on the “this book belongs to” page in substantial editions noting that it’s been donated by the International Wizard of Oz Club.  But that’s not necessary.  Think about what Oz means to you, and consider that copies gifted into this Great Outside World might just find their way into a young reader’s hand, who will find in Oz the place they’ve been looking for, the home of their heart.

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Santore art exhibit features Oz

WoodmereTightThe exhibit of Charlie Santore’s work currently on display at the Woodmere Art Museum in Philadelphia is wonderful! I would encourage any Oz fans who can to see it. I flew out for the weekend to hear Michael Patrick Hearn’s presentation, “Toto, I’ve Got a Feeling We’re Not in Kansas Anymore, the Pictorial Legacy of Oz.”  He shared images from The Wizard of Oz through the years and examples of other classic author/illustrator partnerships that have endured for generations. As with every Hearn lecture, it was fascinating and taught me all kinds of things I didn’t know.

While The Wizard of Oz is just one work in a lifetime retrospective of works included in “Charles Santore: Fifty years of Art and Storytelling,” a mural treatment of the Oz characters approaching the gates of Emerald City drew attention to the importance of the 1991 edition.

WoodmereGalleryI counted 100 pieces of original artwork on display, of which ten are from Oz. I’d list a favorite, but how can could I single out any one?  There’s the dramatic chaos of the Kansas tornado.  The Cowardly Lion leaping across the chasm with his eyes squeezed shut in terror.  The livid Wicked Witch of the West commanding her flying monkeys to attack. The memorable arc of water flying from Dorothy’s bucket at the face of the Witch. It was a pleasure to see all these lovely watercolors in person — and to watch other visitors to the gallery stand in front of them getting swept up in the narrative of Santore’s masterful work.

It was lovely to see Charlie Santore again, too. He spoke at the Club’s 2016 convention and hosted Micheal and me for dinner one evening. That was my first unforgettable Santore memory, the experience of this weekend is just as priceless.

Oz friends also made the weekend great fun. Lynn Beltz met my flight and served as roommate. We spent an evening at Ryan Bunch and Micah Mahjoubian’s. Atticus Gannaway, also in town for the event, was there. Dave Kelleher and Mark Heilmann joined us by Michael’s talk on Saturday. We all had dinner together (after loitering in the museum until they had to turn out the lights). Lynn, Michael and I went back Sunday for our own encore viewing.

SantoreI so encourage anyone who can to visit the Woodmere for this. Exhibits of this caliber are few and far between. I’ve found there have been a lot of once-in-a-lifetime events during my 40+ years of Oz. I have unforgettable memories of those I’ve been able to experience, and nothing but regrets for those I’ve missed. Check the museum’s calendar for a book signing, free Sundays and other exhibit events.

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As a postscript for  fans who do make it, you also will find on the second level of the gallery one of Santore’s illustrations from Baum’s The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus. Don’t miss that one!

Charles Santore: Fifty Years of Art and Storytelling

Windows to Oz

Exh2GlassWizard of Oz stained glass by Century Studios (IWOC members Bill Campbell and Irwin Terry) is featured in the second Club display at the Oz Museum in Wamego, Kansas. Character panels, a rare wall mirror, bookends, and two character ornaments are included.

Most is from my collection, but Robin Olderman’s daughters loaned the Ozma mirror, and Dave Kelleher loaned one of the ornaments, a Denslow Dorothy, and an MGM Glinda both from the late Chris Sterling’s collection. Your generosity is appreciated.

Readers of The Baum Bugle were treated to an article (Winter 2015) about the work Bill and Irwin have been creating for more than 30 years. Bill’s blog sometimes looks at their Oz glass, too.

Scroll through the “Oz Projects” category under Labels to see their larger Oz projects. One of my favorites is a step-by-step examination of the stained glass window of Polychrome being pulled up into the rainbow from The Road to Oz. They created it for a private client. It took three different blog entries to tell the story, ending with this one:

Polychrome Window Blog, part 3

The Windows to Oz display will be up for six months. It’s hard to imagine a more eye-catching, colorful and creative display of outstanding craftsmanship inspired by Oz.

My thanks, again, to the Oz Museum for helping our Oz Club reach fans through this ongoing program.

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