It is really hard for me to believe that a new year has started. The year 2006 will bring many first — Keith and I will celebrate 20 years together; Christine will begin her first year of high school and my niece—Ashley—will graduate high school; and Marie and Amber will turn 22 and 24, respectively. In addition to these wonderful family events, 2006 will bring some long awaited books and movies. The long-awaited seventh book in the Harry Potter series will certainly cause a commotion when it is finally released, not to mention the millions of dollars that Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix will make when it hits the silver screen. Some of the biggest news I’ve heard for 2006 is the talk of turning all seven books of The Chronicles of Narnia into motion pictures. I spent many months of 2005 awaiting The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to arrive on the silver screen. Narnia was my favorite place to visit as a child, competing with only the Land of Oz and the Tesseract — or a Wrinkle in Time — as a desired reading series.
The Wizard of Oz, of course, was turned into a magnificent motion picture over 50 years ago and remains a beloved movie for children and adults of all ages. There have been several animated versions of Oz, as well as motion picture sequel. The Return to Oz was a favorite of Amber and Marie when they were growing up, and Christine has seen it numerous times as well. We used to have a home-recorded VHS tape of the movie, and we watched it until we literally wore it out. I haven’t been able to find this movie in DVD form, but I will continue to search the internet until I find one to add to our collection.
What many people don’t realize is that The Wizard of Oz is only the first book a 16 book series on Oz. Although the original Oz will always remain my favorite version, I have read the other books in the series several times each. Frank Baum had such a vivid imagination and I could picture his beautiful scenes in my head with each word I read. Now that Hollywood has had such great successes with the Harry Potter series, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and The Chronicles of Narnia, I hope some wonderful motion picture studio will re-do The Wizard of Oz. Just thinking about what types of special FX could be used to breath new life into this story—it sends tingles down my imagination.
Believe it or not, A Wrinkle in Time was my favorite book as a child, mainly because it was the first fantasy book I ever read. I discovered Charles Wallace and the “Tesseract”—a made-up word meaning a wrinkle in time—while I was still in elementary school. I used to work as a library aide at Mercer County Elementary School and I became wonderful friends with Joy Gash, who was the current librarian during my early years. She is the one responsible for turning me onto the world of fantasy books—I’ll never begin to repay her for her suggestions. The books I read as a child have stayed with me through adulthood. The same books I read as a child are the same books I read to my children growing up. Amber and Marie were not readers the way I was, so I can remember reading to them about the wonderful lands of Oz, Narnia, the Tesseract, as well as other fantasies we found along the way. Christine is an avid reader like me—she loves the Harry Potter series, she has read several books in the Oz series and she is currently reading The Chronicles of Narnia. Christine has also introduced me to several new fantasy lands — Earagon, the Dragon Riders, and A Series of Unfortunate Events.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was first introduced to visual media as an animated feature. Although sections of the cartoon are faithful to the book, it left so much out that I was actually disappointed the first time I saw it. C. S. Lewis had such an imagination and he established the land of Narnia with his words and phrases, not to mention the Biblical references and his interest in good versus evil. It is not often that a children’s book can offer morals and parables just like the Bible. It was these references that drew me to the rest of The Chronicles of Narnia after reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe for the first time. I can vividly remember reading this series of books to Amber and Marie when they were little. As a matter of fact, when Amber was 9 years old, she was in a play at the Old Fort Harrod summer workshop based on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I love to go back and look at the photographs from this wonderful play.
A Wrinkle in Time is another series of books that I would love to see on the big screen. Although this book was turned into a television movie in 2005, it left a lot to be desired and it found me craving to see it on the big screen. With the advancements in special FX, this book deserves a chance to be presented to children around the world in the same way as I envisioned it in my head. Just as sells of the books, The Wizard of Oz and The Chronicles of Narnia have increased after their motion picture debut, a blockbuster movie could spur the increase of book sells for A Wrinkle in Time.
So, this winter when your children are complaining, “There’s nothing to do”, go to the Mercer Public Library and check out a good book. Reading to younger children not only encourages their imagination, but sets a good example in choosing classical books from the past. The Christian Book store — on the south side of the Harrodsburg Wal-Mart — carries The Chronicles of Narnia as well as several reference books discussing the series. What a wonderful lesson to teach your children — reading about Narnia and talking about the Biblical references it contains. Keep reading as a family and when the time arrives, enjoy the motion pictures versions of your favorite books—it’s a great way to stay connected to your family in our fast paced world.
© Bobbi Rightmyer, August 2006