Just had a brief IM conversation with Tosh Berman (the son of the artist Wallace Berman), a man who is both a book aficionado (and book seller at Book Soup) and a commentator upon art and books and such (search Tosh Talks).
Tosh and I were both fortunate to know Jess and Robert Duncan. Tosh mentioned that Jess and Robert gave him the Oz books (lost, since then, in an accident). I told him that, thanks to Jess and Robert, I read to my children the entire series of Oz books (twice, actually).
If you do not happen to know of the
Oz books, you most certainly know of the movie. Well, the movie was but one of a series of tales told first by L. Frank Baum, and then, later, by his niece, Ruth Plumly Thompson, and others. I think our collection ended up including the original 14 books written by Baum plus some majority of the 19 books written by Ruth Plumly Thomson and perhaps one or two of the titles by John R. Neil, the great illustrator of the Oz series.
It broke my heart to hear that the Oz books given to Tosh had been lost. Happily, they
have been mostly kept in print by Books of Wonder, the great children’s bookstore in New York. If you have a child, or you need a gift to give a child, I whole-heartedly recommend you consider giving them the greatest series of childrens books ever written. I consider them the true American folk tales.
And if you read them aloud to these children, and give yourself permission to embody the voices of the different characters in your own particular interpretation, I suggest that you shall experience pure heaven. Certainly your listeners will.
Thanks, Tosh, for reminding me just how wonderful these books are. My children cherish them to this day. And the books will always, for both of you and me, remind us of two great, great people who knew their enchantment and promoted their strange beauty.
We are so lucky.