August 4, 2016

Book Talk Thursday: Toto's Tale by Sylvia Patience

One of the most distinctive memories I have from my childhood is that of a just three-year old sitting in her miniature rocking chair watching "The Wonderful Wizard of OZ" on a small black and white television set. My favorite part of the movie was Toto, the little black dog. I remember clapping and laughing for and at him until the flying monkeys snatched him away. I started screaming and crying so much that I never was able to finish watching the movie... until next year.

I looked forward to viewing this movie each year (this is in the days before recording devices and streaming films). Sometimes the wait seemed unbearable. As I got older and visited the public library, I soon discovered a series of Wizard of Oz books by author L.Frank Baum. The complete saga was so much more than what was revealed via the movie.

And now fifty-five years later I discover that there is even more to the tale as it is now told through the eyes of my favorite character!

Toto's Tale and the True Chronicle of Oz
by Sylvia Patience
Independent Book Publishers Association
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was written in 1900 by L. Frank Baum. Many other Oz books followed, as well as the famous 1939 movie. Not until now, however, does Toto tell the story, as he remembers it. In Toto’s Tale, we read his version of the beloved adventures. Toto tells how he first found Dorothy when she arrived in Kansas on an orphan train and how they were both adopted by Aunt Em and Uncle Henry. In the end, he says, the silver shoes (not ruby slippers as in the movie) weren’t lost in the desert, but put to good use...Amazon.com.
Normally, I steer clear of retellings, new versions, or knock-off stories. They just never satisfy as the original. However, something made me check-out Toto's Tale. Perhaps it was a fond childhood memory of Dorothy's cute companion. Whatever it was, I'm thoroughly delighted that I did. The spunky, once orphaned, critter tells the familiar story of Dorothy, the scarecrow, tin man, and lion with just the right mixture of the familiar (movie script) with fresh material.

The yellow brick road carries our travelers throughout the land of Oz. While we meet the familiar Munchkins we are also introduced to the Winkies. Instead of familiar ruby slippers Dorothy is gifted with silver shoes that still magically help her return home. The Wizard is indeed terrible to behold, but he appears differently to different subjects. The Emerald City is green but only through the use of special glasses. The travelers seek the typical gifts from the wizard: a return trip home, a heart, a brain, and courage. It's Toto's turn to seek a gift. Toto just wants to talk like all the animals in Oz.

While predictable due to familiarity there is just enough new to keep the plotline interesting for older readers and exciting enough for younger readers. This feature also makes it a wonderful book to use in a 5/6th grade classroom. Current ELA standards require teachers to involve students in comparing/contrasting written texts with visual media. It would be difficult, I think, to find a student this age who has not seen the classic film. With Patience's addition of material regarding the Orphan Trains and the precursor events leading up to the era of the Dust Bowl, this tale would do well in comparing/contrasting informational and literary texts.

Toto's Tale is charming, exciting, inviting, humorous, predictable, and fresh... a recipe for a terrific read that might open the door to Baum's original series for young readers.

If you, like I, are a fan of The Wizard of Oz (movie or book series) you'll want to read this delightful little tale! You can grab your own copy HERE.

I'm adding Toto's Tale to Book Talk Thursday over at This Literacy Life. Be sure to check out other titles featured there.




1 comment:

  1. Thank you linking up this week! I, too, remember watching The Wizard of Oz each year on our black and white TV. It seemed so much scarier than in color. This book looks intriguing, so I will have to find out more about it.

    Andrea
    This Literacy Life

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