Three books featuring Dorothy's ruby slippers


As we ready ourselves to observe the very important cultural marker of the 70th anniversary of the film, The Wizard of Oz, we should talk about the book on which the film is based. Why? First, because as you may or may not be aware, the book has some serious Chicago ties. Secondly, because references to the iconic story pop up all over the place. Even in other books.

The Wizard of Oz was not only written right here in Chicago, was first published in Chicago and was first seen by the public at a book fair taking place in Chicago. Many Baum scholars
believe the Emerald City in the novel was modeled after the 1893
World’s Fair in Chicago (“the White City”) and the novel continues to hold a presence in Chicago even now at the city’s Oz Park
(at Webster & Lincoln) and is often referenced in literature. In the instances below, the novel is references specifically by Dorothy’s famed ruby slippers:


The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

“I look down to see why she is clattering and I see: ruby slippers. “They’re just like Dorothy’s!” Alba says, doing a little tap dance on the wooden floor. She taps her heels together three times, but doesn’t vanish. Of course, she’s already home.”


The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb

Actually, Lamb refers to the ruby slippers not once but twice: In The Hour I First Believed, a novel about Columbine High School, the shoes appear in dialogue: “Yeah, well, try clicking your ruby slippers together…” (In his She’s Come Undone, a description includes a “poster close-up of Dorothy’s powder-blue ankle socks and red ruby slippers.”)


Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk

“The Holy Grail of movie memorabilia. Better than the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz or the sled named ‘Rosebud’…”

Of course, there are tons of other examples. What’s your favorite?


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  • Did you hear that they're doing a new Oz movie. The Wonderful Wizard of OZ, it will apparently be CGI and feature Dakota Fanning.

  • Always loved the Oz quote by John Waters, "Great shoes and a gay lion. I never understood why Dorothy wanted to go home."

    It'd be fun to see Waters bring Oz to the stage. Like he did with "Hairspray."

    As a movie, thanks to The Wizard of Oz, believe it or not, I actually had my first meaningful encounter with subtext.

    I went to see it in Bryant Park, as part of the summer movie series in New York City. When Dorothy approaches The Scarecrow at the fork in the road, she famously asks how to get to Oz.

    The Scarecrow says: "Some people go this way. Some people go that way. Of course, some people go both ways." The audience errupted.

    Everything I had ever thought about that moment, stretching all the way back to childhood, changed with a flood of insight.

    Oz is magic on so many levels: gorgeous singing, beautiful imagery, black and white turning to techincolor. But mostly, the writing is the wizard behind the curtain.

  • I have seen this movie so many times and still love those ruby slippers. My mom always made divinity candy during the movie and I always hid behind the door and peeked through the crack because I was so afraid of the flying monkeys and that witch. I always wanted a pair of ruby slippers but I settled for a pair of red Keds. WooHoo!!

  • And Baum mother-in-law was a famousish (should have been more famous, might've been if not for some bullshit Susan B Anthony pulled) 1st wave feminist named Matilda Josyln Gage, who I think lived with Baum and her daughter in Chicago briefly before her death, and is reputed to have influence Baum's book.

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