I love fall—the colors, the bite in the air, the smell of baking pies. There is something about fall that brings people together. It’s a time to snuggle up with a blanket and good book. Fall is also the season of thanks. The time we take to share with others what we are most grateful for. I want to express my thanks to a very special person who helped me as a tween.
I want to thank L. Frank Baum. Although he is long passed away, his presence is still strong in my home. I grew to love his books when I was a tween. Life was hard for me during those early years. I lived on my grandparent’s farm, miles away from friends or family. It was lonely and most of the time I wished I were far, far away.
One day I took my copy of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz with me to the woods. I had created a fortress in a clearing next to a pond. As I read, characters would come to life and fill the empty spaces of those woods. Fairies would dance in the trees and munchkins would sing as they fished. Callidas would haunt the dark corners between evergreens. Magic existed. I had found my escape.
Every day I would sneak out to those woods and bury myself in another adventure. I was with Dorothy when she narrowly escaped the Wicked Witch. I was with her when she returned to Oz. I fought alongside Glinda as she rescued Ozma and Dorothy from the Skeezers. Tick-Tok, Scarecrow, and Jack Pumpkin Head became my imaginary confidants. They helped me deal with not living with my mom and the bullies at school. Baum created a world with his books that transcended the pages of reality and helped me in my time of need.
Today, I still have my collection of Oz books. When my wife and I became pregnant with our first child, I read The Wizard of Oz to my daughter every night before she was born. Since, we have read it numerous times. I am glad she has latched onto the love I have for Baum and his books. I hope as she grows up she can find lessons hidden in the pages. I hope she can find the magic and bring it to life.
L. Frank Baum is the first American middle-grade author. He struggled at first to get his books known, but once he did, he found they were loved by the old and young alike. Thank you, Mr. Baum for being one of the caretakers of children. You have truly written your words on my heart and I will forever be grateful.
Please take a moment this month to honor those authors whose books have helped you in some way. Take a moment to say, “Thank you.” Books can touch our hearts in more ways than one. I am certainly grateful for those that have touched mine.
-Mikey Brooks, author of The Dream Keeper