Each month, write a new collection.
Dear Frank Baum,Thank you for writing my favorite childhood book, The Enchanted Island of Yu. I found that book in a forgotten bookcaseat Grandmother Russell’s housein Memphis and read it at least ten times while I stayed there. When I was recalled to Burlington, I askedGrandmother if I could take the book alongand she said, “No.” Aunt Meta explainedthat she felt people were trying to takeall of her things because she was about to die, and she was determinedto live forever. Then Aunt Meta slipped the bookinto my suitcase.While Miss Taylor read Wizard of Ozaloud every day after lunch while most of the kids dozedand nodded over their carvedand defaced desks, the respositories of forbidden knowledge, the placesto find words you can’t ask your parentsto define, I listened with rapt attentionknowing my book’s author also wrotethis epic of flying mean monkeys,witches, and powerless wizards. Am I kidding myself to think thatthe Wizard is a secret feminist work?The little girl and the witches are loci of power and might, right? andthe male fellow travelers and thewizard can’t do squat, right?In Yu, in Baum’s unknown sister book,a fairy decides to become humanfor a year. She interviews girlsand decides that their lives are no fun.So she becomes Prince Marvel for a year, is autonomous, unquestioned.He rides through all five kingdomson the Isle of Yu and solves all theproblems of their people, thenmoves on. He’s a rolling stone,won’t marry anyone, much totheir disappointment. At theend of the year, she resumesher fairy selfhood, says goodbyeto the girls and tells them theywere absolutely right, girls have no fun. If you are a human,you’d better be a boy. WhoaFrank Baum, what year wasthat? I loved every word.