What’s happening at the Library?

Published 11:48 am Monday, May 15, 2023

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By James Gardner 

Clark County Public Library

“Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.”

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Once upon a time, a young Dorothy Gale made this statement to her dog Toto upon realizing she was far away from Kansas or anywhere she knew. It later became the go-to phrase for any fictional character who finds themselves in very unfamiliar territory. You may have used this phrase yourself if you’ve taken a wrong turn down a strange road or gone to a room where you were sure the meeting was being held. But before that phrase was uttered by anyone, it sprang from the mind of L. Frank Baum, who has a birthday this week. Sure, we can thank Baum for the perfect phrase when you’re in a strange place, but as the writer of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” and its sequels, he created a magical world that has lured many dreamers and creators down its yellow-brick road.

The story has a lot of elements that still resonate for readers, along with the witch-melting and flying-monkey-dodging. The magical characters Dorothy encounters are also interesting. Readers may see themselves in Dorothy, the wide-eyed dreamer who wishes to see life beyond her Kansas farm, even as she discovers, she always had the way home—Spoiler alert In fact, when Dorothy and her crew of Tin Man, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion and adorable dog Toto finally meet the Wizard and discover that he is not that great and/or powerful, it becomes not a loss for the characters but a discovery of who they are. Readers might also see themselves as the cowardly lion who discovers he can be brave, or the scarecrow who realizes he could be smart. These characters all grow past others’ (and their own) preconceived notions of their character, which sounds like a worthwhile aspiration for all of us.

For patrons who want to rediscover these and other characters from Oz, the library has the classic story (J BAUM) and we have the classic film starring Judy Garland (DVD Classic WIZA). New creators are also writing new stories about Oz and its residents, redefining Oz’s heroes and villains. Most notable is Gregory Maguire’s “Wicked Years” series (Fantastic F Magu), which looks at the early life of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, among others. In movies, James Franco explores how the wizard became or rather appeared to become his great and powerful self in “Oz the Great and Powerful” (DVD Sci-Fi/Fantasy Oz).

Plenty of stories will be on the other side of the rainbow, and the library will be ready to share them, a pot of gold not included. Sorry, leprechaun enthusiasts. Whatever those stories are, there’s still some fun stuff to do on this side of the rainbow.

Upcoming events

On May 16 at 6 p.m., the library writing group Write Out There! will meet. James Gardner and Rachel Hamm offer writers of all kinds to share their ideas as we share writing prompts to help get your creative juices flowing. Bring anything you’re working on, or bring paper, pencil or laptop to do some writing and have some fun. Space is limited, so please call to register or use the Library’s Evanced online registration.

This week’s Kentucky Picture Show, showing on May 17 at 2 p.m., stars Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, and an all-star cast in the story of four lifelong friends and New England Patriots fans who take a life-changing trip to Super Bowl LI to see their hero Tom Brady play. But before they encounter their hero, these ladies must navigate the chaos surrounding the biggest sporting event in the country. Refreshments will be provided.