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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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