In college two of my roommates were taking a pop-culture class and they told me that their professor says that the Wizard Of Oz has become so engrained in American culture that you can’t go a day without hearing a reference to it. We all thought that was ridiculous until we started paying attention. Now it seems quite true. If you’ve watched the movie recently and you start paying attention you’ll find out for yourself.
Anyway, since then, all things Wizard of Oz seem to catch my eye so that’s probably why I picked up Ophie Out of Oz at the library. Fourth grader Ophie Peeler had a wonderful life in California and the best friend of her dreams. Her life drastically changes when she moves to Oregon, where the most popular girls want nothing to do with her, her mom is busy with her baby sister, her teacher returns all of her paper covered with corrections, and boring Brittnay follows her around. Ophie hits rock bottom when her mother informs her that they will be settling in Oregon permanently and then Ophie discovers that her beloved ruby slipper no longer fit. She begins to think she’s not as much like Dorothy as she thought she was, and she’s desperate to fit in.
The main character in this book was nowhere near as endearing as Dorothy. In fact I disliked Ophie so much I had a hard time continuing with the story because I really didn’t care what happened to her. Of course once she schemed her way into popularity, she realized it wasn’t really worth it, but she was so wrapped up in herself that I never felt like she truly grew to appreciate anyone else in the story.
There were a few memorable moments that made the book a little more engaging. Ophie’s principal completely understands Ophie’s desire to be like Dorothy and reveals that she too is a glamourous star in her secret heart. And there’s a brilliant scene when Ophie discovers that Brittany has a boyfriend and emails him every evening. Ophie is completely disappointed to discover that all she emails him is a list of what she has for dinner and then he emails her back a list of what he has for dinner.
This isn’t a book I’m buying for my personal library, but I think a lot of preteen girls would enjoy Ophie’s escapades.