word craft


Story Behind the Story #11:
Who Stole the Wizard of Oz?

Lots of peo­ple are fas­ci­nat­ed by maps. I knew a seri­ous book col­lec­tor who built a large library of books which specif­i­cal­ly had maps in them. For exam­ple, Trea­sure Island, famous­ly, has a map in it. Indeed, it’s said that Steven­son drew the map for his step-son first, and then wrote the book.

Atlas of FantasyI too like maps and so, back in the day when I work­ing as a librar­i­an, I was intrigued when a new atlas came into the ref­er­ence col­lec­tion. More­over to my great delight it was an atlas of fan­ta­sy lands. A won­der­ful­ly clever idea, it was such fun to see maps of, not just Trea­sure Island, but the lands of Oz, the Thou­sand-acre Woods, and so on. Much fun.

As I was going through the book I real­ized an impor­tant map was miss­ing: the chess­board from Through the Look­ing Glass, by Lewis Car­roll. That was the begin­ning of my think­ing of the book which became Who Stole the Wiz­ard of Oz?

Through the Looking Glass

Who Stole the Wizard of Oz?My notion was to write a mys­tery in which the essen­tial clues were to be found in the maps of well-known chil­dren’s books—books which had been stolen from the Check­er­town, Ohio Library. When an inno­cent Becky has been accused of steal­ing the books, she and her twin broth­er, Toby, need to track down the real thief, and find a hid­den trea­sure, using the maps as essen­tial clues. (Hint: a checker­board and a chess­board are iden­ti­cal.) And, if it brought my read­ers to The Wind in the Wil­lows, Win­nie-the-Pooh, the Oz books, Trea­sure Island, and Through the Look­ing Glass, bet­ter yet.

In short, Who Stole the Wiz­ard of Oz? is a book about books brought into my head by yet anoth­er book. That’s what hap­pens when the writer is also a librarian.

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