I Read a Fairy Tale

Recently I ventured out the back door to engage in one of my many daily activities, a walk. My walks engage two of my daily activities; physical activity and listening of podcasts. This day I decided to enjoy one of my literary podcasts and was introduced to an individual by the name of Jack Zipes. Who exactly is Jack Zipes? Combining what I learned from the podcast while on my walk, and a general engagement of Google while cooling down with a beverage, I came to understand Zipes is a retired professor who spent a career transforming the way in which fairy tales are “analyzed”. Through lectures and other published works, he examined the evolution of fairy tales and their significant contributions to social and political ideas through time. This got me to thinking… Maybe I should read some “fairy tales”?

But before I grabbed a book to read, I gave it some consideration before I invested the time to pick up one of these books. I have discovered that Zipes has a view of fairy tales that suggest they “serve a meaningful social function, not just for compensation but for revelation: the worlds projected by the best of our fairy tales reveal the gaps between truth and falsehood in our immediate society.” Wow! A fairy tale can do all that? But rather than reflect on some “large scale” societal benefit to taking a couple days to read a fairy tale, I asked myself “Why would I read a fairy tale?”

I first considered that fairy tales possess an enchanting power to transport readers to magical realms where imagination knows no bounds. These timeless narratives, brimming with whimsy and wonder, may offer a captivating escape from the routine of everyday life. Through the trials and triumphs of fantastical characters, I could explore fundamental truths about human nature, morality, and even the intricacies of the human experience. By taking time and immersing myself in the pages of a fairy tale, I might could relive the thrill of discovery and rediscover the sense of awe that accompanies the unknown; maybe not experienced since my childhood. Whether seeking solace, inspiration, or simply a momentary departure from reality, the allure of fairy tales may lie in their ability to reignite that spark of childlike curiosity within me and remind me that the realm of the extraordinary may not be that far from my reach.

On a recent weekend jaunt to St. Louis, where my wife and I met a cousin of mine for a Cardinals baseball game, we took time out to visit Dunaway Books over on Grand Blvd. It’s an experience of grandeur to walk through the doors of this bookstore. On this visit, I immediately noticed with some degree of wonderment a shelf full of what appeared to be “Wizard of Oz” books; like a series of novels beyond just the “story” I was familiar with from childhood. Upon engaging in conversation with one of the store managers I learned that the author, L. Frank Baum, after his “Wizard of Oz” book, received letters from children asking the author for more stories from the Land of Oz. It seems in and about 1908, Blum delivered another book entitled “The Land of Oz” and shortly thereafter another one named “Ozma of Oz”. However, the children continued inundating Blum with requests and ideas for additional stories in which they would hear more of Dorothy, the Wizard, and all the other fond characters in the Land of Oz. The children knew that the Wizard left Oz in a balloon and were waiting for him “to come down again”. I believe the series eventually developed into a series of 31 books, of which I purchased the 3rd in the series, “Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz” and the 6th in the series, “The Patchwork Girl of Oz”.

So, now having decided to engage with the journey of reading a fairy tale, and having in my possession two fairy tale books, I decided to choose “Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz” of these to examine on my initial journey back into a “land of fairy tales”. I am glad to report, that I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent reading this book. The journey encouraged me to consider events of the story on many levels of engagement with my own social daily encounters. The experience is encouraging me to visit other “lands” and spend some time in these alternative “worlds” and allow myself to be encouraged to re-examine my ideas through the curiosity ignited through fantasy. May I also encourage you to consider visiting these lands on your own time…. We may all benefit from time in “fantasy land”……