Wonderful Wizard of Oz (L. Frank Baum)

I love the Wizard of Oz. Seriously. Love. It. I am all about some "Somewhere oooover the rainbow..." "Follow the yellow brick road!" and "If I only had a brain." and "I'll get you, and your little dog, too!" and "I'm mellllttttiiiinnnggg!"

And those Munchkins? Don't you dare get me started.

But y'all. Judy Garland had it all wrong. All joking aside, the movie version should have had a disclaimer stating that it was loosely based on the book. There is so much left out, so much that is changed in the version written for the big screen.

Originally published in 1900, it all starts out about the same way. Dorothy has lost both her parents and is living with her aunt and uncle. A cyclone takes away Dorothy and her dog Toto to Munchkin Land, where her house accidentally kills the Wicked Witch of the East. The Good Witch of the North sends Dorothy (with the East Witch's silver shoes-NOT ruby slippers) on a journey to the Emerald City to get help there from the Wizard of Oz. Along her way, she meets the characters we know and love so well from the 1939 movie: Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion. In the book, however, the story goes into great detail about the Tin Woodman and how he came to be rusted there on the side of the road. As the book tells it, the Tin Man used to be just a woodman who was in love with a girl. The Wicked Witch of the East put a hex on his axe, which turned against him and chopped his limbs off one by one. They were replaced with tin prosthetics until his entire body was made only of tin. His tin body was not given a heart, so he was unable to continue loving the girl he had lost his life over.

The Wicked Witch of the West blames Dorothy for her sister's death and sets out to doing whatever she can to keep her from getting to the Land of Oz. She sends hordes of crows, bees, and wolves to try and stop them. Two additional differences from the movie are that the Wicked Witch of the West has an army of Winkies in her service AND the witch has this Golden Hat. The Golden Hat grants permission to the owner to summon an army of winged monkeys to do her/his bidding. The witch uses her last summoning on Dorothy and her gang, and the monkeys tear apart the Tin Man and Scarecrow. Dorothy gets angry and throws a bucket of water on the witch, wherein she melts theatrically. No surprise there, at least.

So now Dorothy has the Golden Hat. She uses it to get the winged monkeys and the Winkies to help them all get put back together and taken to the Emerald City. They meet the wizard who really isn't a wizard at all, and he accidentally leaves Dorothy and Toto behind when his hot air balloon takes off unexpectedly. Dorothy and her friends make the long journey to see Glinda, the Good Witch of the North. After another series of adventures involving a giant spider and crazy trees, they make it to Glinda. Glinda tells Dorothy that the silver shoes have been her way home the entire time, and so they are. Dorothy and Toto are returned to her aunt's and uncle's house, and they all live happily ever after.

Check it out yourself in Google Books.

Choosing to SEE (Mary Beth Chapman)

Thanks to a hot Kindle sale, I was able to read this narrative biographical journey of Mary Beth and the Chapman family throughout their rather tumultuous life experiences. In the book, she tells of her early life together with Christian singer/songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman. She also tells of their family's growth through birth and through adoption. She writes very candidly about the sad accident which caused the death of little Maria, one of their daughters. This is a book that resonates with every mother, and unlike many of the popular "celebrity" books written today, Mrs. Mary Beth is as real as it gets. I'm thankful for her courage in writing this book.

Raising Adopted Children (Lois Ruskai Molina)

Of all the adoption books I read, this was by far one of the most comprehensive. It is my opinion that frequently adoption book authors make the mistake of either being either too flowery with not enough actual helpful content or being too cold and diagnostic without the proper accent of emotion. This book struck a good balance between the two. 

One of my favorite aspects was that she went to great care to include tips and advice for every possible scenario in adoptive families. It was the first time I've read a book that includes information for adoptive families who already have biological children, and advice on how to promote bonding between the two. It was for the first time that I read in this book a several-page section detailing adoption and breastfeeding, and how and when to decide if it's right for your family. 

I've long since returned this one to the library, but still my mind drifts back to statements of truth about the adoption experience from this book. That probably means it's time for a hard copy to go on my shelf! 

Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother (Jana Wolff)

(This library issue was an older copy. The newer version features updated cover art.)

In this charmingly poignant memoir, Jana Wolff gets away with the kind of transparency most adoptive moms find elusive. In her honesty, she gets to say all the things adoptive mothers think at one point or another in their process. She gets to share the brutally honest "Dear Birth Mother" letter she really wanted to write, and she gets the chance to pop off all the witty retorts she'd ever thought toward people's nosy inquiries or observations about her son.

She gets to do all of this because Jana Wolff knows she is preaching to the audience. She has adoptive moms pegged from the prologue, and that makes this a great read; light, simple, and fun, but also serious and emotional.

Wolff and her husband (both Jewish) adopted their biracial son (whose heritage is a blend of black and Hispanic races) through a domestic, open adoption. This book chronicles their adoption experience from facing infertility to moving along into the adoption process, and all the way from interviewing with birth mothers to witnessing the birth of their son and beyond into their new life as a family. Wolff infuses each step with a clear depiction of her thoughts and emotions at each stage, which makes this an invaluable book for adoptive mothers. Having recently completed an adoption process (even though mine was neither domestic nor open), I found myself deeply comforted by Wolff's observations and emotional candor. I wish I'd had this book to read at the beginning of our journey!

For more information on Jana Wolff, go to: http://www.janawolff.com. I found the page with her articles and blog posts quite interesting!

Reclaiming Adoption: Missional Living Through the Rediscovery of Abba Father (Dan Cruver, John Piper, Jason Kovacs, Scotty Smith, & Richard Phillips)

Having recently experienced international adoption and having my eyes opened in such radical ways, I've also become sensitive to the adoption community. My family has attended adoption conferences and seminars, and have been able to learn from some incredible thinkers in the adoption world. The authors of this book are among them.

My husband and I felt called to adopt an orphan, and it was during the long and arduous process that we learned levels of Ephesians 1 that we had never contemplated before. How very interesting it is that while the most significant encounter of our lives is becoming adopted into the family of God, (and for Christians is the primary motive for adopting), it is nearly insurmountable that we truly and fully understand the depth of our adoption by God until we have experienced the adoption of our own child.

"One of my dreams is that when Christians hear the word adoption, they will think first about their adoption by God." (author Dan Cruver, first chapter, first sentence). Dan, along with several other authors, sets out to encourage just that in their newly released book Reclaiming Adoption. Within each chapter, John Piper, Dan Cruver, Jason Kovacs, Scotty Smith, and Richard Phillips each take turns delving into separate and unique characteristics of our vertical adoption as God's children, along with application in the horizontal adoption of our own children here on Earth.

The voice of each writer is evident, as is their careful choreography of collective authorship. I found their words encouraging as an adoptive mother and as a believer striving to grow in my relationship with God.  I also found myself quite pleasantly surprised and challenged by their fresh ideas in our meditations as believers of being adopted as heirs with Christ, as well as some cutting edge thoughts and philosophies in regard to orphan care within the church.

Thanks to my Kindle, I can easily navigate back to my list of notes, marks, and highlights from this book. It is truly the mark of a great work when, out of its 100 or so pages, I have 50 of these notations to review.

For more information about the authors, the book, or the T4A network, visit: