When I announced the release of the Ozma of Oz audiobook last week, I admitted that the movie Return to Oz (based mainly on Ozma) terrified me as a child. I was in elementary school when the movie was released, and found Mombi (Princess Langwidere in Ozma) completely terrifying. I still have memories of the screaming heads. *shudder*
I’m sure at some point The Wizard of Oz probably scared me. That witch was scary! And that, along with the thought that we show that movie to children without a second thought, came to mind briefly when I got to the scene in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz where the witch imprisons Dorothy in the tower with the threat of death hanging over her head. Who issues a child a death threat in a beloved children’s book? (I know, the Wicked Witch of the West… Clearly, she and Voldemort belong to the same social club.) Although Dorothy’s age is never given in the books, it’s clear from her vocabulary and diction that she’s probably right around ten years old.
I was right around the same age when Return to Oz was released. I loved Dorothy’s dress, and Mombi’s gemstone key, and BIllina, and Ozma. But those heads. Those awful heads. And the Wheelers. So much about that movie was so dark. But Mombi, Jack, and the Gump all come from The Marvelous Land of Oz, so when I started narrating that one, I worried I was going to run into the heads. (I’d forgotten which book they were in.)
I read a handful of the Oz books as a teenager, including Ozma of Oz, so I had some idea what I was walking into when I started narrating the entire series last year, but it did nothing to allay that feeling of dread as I prepped Ozma and realized flashes of the movie were going to be playing through my mind as I narrated. And they did. From those Wheelers, to Princess Langwidere and her mandolin, to the palace full of knick-knacks.
But I did it. I got through it. And you guys can tell me if i survived. In the mean time, it’s off for another trip through Oz.
PS – If you were a Patron, you could have read this story yesterday. *wink*