Review Blog

Dec 03 2017

Toto: The dog-gone amazing story of the Wizard of Oz by Michael Morpurgo

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Ill. by Emma Chichester Clark. Harper Collins Children's books, 2017. ISBN 9780008134600
(Age: 5+) Highly recommended. Themes: Fantasy tale; Home; Kindness; Resilience. Michael Morpurgo has added his wonderful skills to retell the story of Dorothy and Toto and the Wizard of Oz. Told from the perspective of Toto, who tells the tale of the journey to the Land of Oz to the young and weakest puppy (who might need its own message of kindness, courage and goodness); this is a beautiful rendering of the traditional tale. Dorothy's friendship with Scarecrow, Tinman and the cowardly Lion is retold in a warm and powerful way, highlighting the value of friendship and self-belief against the odds. The potentially scary moments in the story are always forewarned by the narrator Toto, with comforting comments to remind the reader that all will turn out well in the end. The strength of the story is always in the honourable and good and kind way that Dorothy responds, her resilience in the face of difficulty and in her mantra that "home is home . . . and home is best" even when uncertainties cross her path. And of course Scarecrow, the Tinman and Lion also learn valuable lessons too.
Illustrations by Emma Chichester Clark are naive and warm and intriguing, and will appeal to young readers. This is certainly a book that would make a wonderful read-aloud for a parent to a child and the lessons that could be shared would enrich their relationship. The mastery of Morpurgo's writing skill is that the book would be loved by both adult and child, and I am sure, read more than once. I was also impressed with the way that the wicked witches had minimal 'fright-power' for a young reader (no scary dreams likely after reading!)
Carolyn Hull

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