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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

The Delight of Reading Older Books

Who Stole the Wizard of Oz?

One of my favorite types of reading is to go back and read books I’ve missed from years ago. I once spent an entire summer reading books that were published in the 1950s. I had such a strong feeling of the decade after reading those books that I felt more connected to people who lived then. That feeling of connection is very satisfying to me.

Do you do a similar kind of reading?

This last holiday season, I did another dive into books published in decades past. There’s something very comforting about reading these books. I frequently scout out articles where people talk about the books they’ve loved from their childhood. If I haven’t read them, they go on a list and I seek them out. Sometimes I have to scout used book stores but the books are all easily obtainable.

My most recent delight was Who Stole the Wizard of Oz? by Avi. It was first published in 1981. I hadn’t read it before. It holds up well today. In fact, I would readily put this book in the hands of any child, aged 7 and older, who enjoys a mystery. Set in a small town, twin siblings Becky and Toby set out to solve a crime that’s presented on page one and is wrapped up neatly 115 pages later.

The crime takes place in a library and so does much of the action. Becky and Toby solve the crime on their own, without help from grown-ups. They question adults. They apply their brains. They discuss (and bicker) and ultimately end up on a stake-out.

To arrive at the solution, they read five classic books: Through the Looking Glass, The Wind in the Willows, The Wizard of Oz, Winnie-the-Pooh, and Treasure Island. By the time they’re done discussing what they’ve read, I knew I’d have to re-read each of those books myself! (I’ve never read Winnie-the-Pooh. I know. Gasp!)

What do each of those books have in common? That’s the delicious part of the story so I won’t spoil it for you. Read this book!

We focus on new books because people love to guess which books will win awards.  We forget that there are thousands (millions?) of kids who are reading these books for the first time. Drawing books off the shelf from the rich canon of children’s literature is a gift we can keep giving again and again.

Stay tuned. I’ll share more of my reading-of-books-past in upcoming columns.

Who Stole the Wizard of Oz?
Avi
Alfred A. Knopf, 1981
(I read a Yearling paperback.)
ISBN 978-0394849928, $6.99

3 Responses to The Delight of Reading Older Books

  1. David LaRochelle January 23, 2017 at 7:34 pm #

    I enjoyed this book very much as well, Vicki, and it should come as no surprise that I loved the game element of it – trying to figure out the mystery! Looking forward to hearing about your other “blasts from the past!” And I so agree; just because a book wasn’t published in the last year or two, doesn’t mean it can’t be fantastic reading for today’s readers.

    • Vicki Palmquist January 24, 2017 at 9:42 am #

      I’d love to know about the older books you’re reading, David.

  2. Kathleen Armstrong February 18, 2017 at 8:58 pm #

    Up until the recent couple of decades, book covers were not as eye catching. Those books which are such great stories languish on shelves. One of my favorite stories that I read aloud to my girls classes each year is The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken. I never tire of the adventure of Bonnie and Sylvia Green.

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