The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wizard of Oz  (aka The Wonderful Wizard of Oz)

by L. Frank Baum

original illustrator W. W. Denslow

first published 1900

158 pp.  (in New York: Sterling, 1999) –  24 chapters

Age: 5 +

Interests: magic, witches, adventure, travel, tornadoes

Also by this author: 14 Oz sequels, of varying quality

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Aladdin (1992)


Rated: G
Length:  90 min.
Age: 6 and up         Commonsense Media sez: 6 +

Scary Factor: villain Jafar is creepy and evil; the huge lion creature guarding the treasure is truly frightening; it devours a thief at the beginning, though this is not seen; in one scene Aladdin nearly drowns; villain’s magic in the climax at the end is pretty scary and huge – turning into an enormous snake and then an even bigger genie

Action: Aladdin is continually fleeing guards with swords – played for laughs but may be stressful; the scene when Aladdin’s in the cave is pretty heavy action-and-danger-wise (Indiana Jones-esque)

Bad Behavior: when the sultan is imprisoned Jafar’s parrot tortures him by force-feeding him crackers – this might be disturbing, or maybe just disturbing for adults!; Genie smokes a cigarette at one point

Sex: all females are scantily clad; a few kisses

Racism: many stereotypes of Middle-Eastern peoples and lifestyle; heroes sound American, while bad guys have Arabian accents

Language: very slangy; also name-calling: “stupid” “dumb” “idiot”

Interests: Arabian legends, magic, desert, folk tales, other cultures

Next: picture books of 1001 Arabian Nights, old movies like The Thief of Bagdad

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Sleeping Beauty (1959)


Rated: G

Length: 75 min.

Age: 4 and up.                      Commonsense Media sez: iffy for ages 4/5

Scary Factor: no real danger until the climax, when Maleficent turns into a dragon to battle the prince (scene is relatively brief)

Intense Scenes: far more suspense and chills than outright scares – Maleficent is wonderfully threatening; scene in which Aurora pricks her finger on the spindle is eerie and enthralling.

Bad Behaviour: Boozing – the two kings drink endless toasts to each other and a minstrel gets quietly sloshed under the table.

Language:  “fools! idiots! imbeciles!” barked by Maleficent at her underlings; she also mentions the powers of “hell”

Interests: fairy tales, princesses, knights, castles, dragons, magic, fairies

Next: Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Thumbelina

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Disney Princess Enchanted Tales: Follow Your Dreams (2007)

(straight to DVD)

Rated: unrated

Length: 56m

Age: 3 +

Scary factor: nonexistent

Interests: the Disney princess brand
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The Princess and the Goblin

by George MacDonald

1872 – originally published in London by Strahan & Co.

216 pp – 32 chapters

Age:  6+ (?)

Next: C. S. Lewis Narnia books, The Hobbit

Also by this author:

Dealings with the Fairies (1867) aka The Light Princess and Other Stories – includes the story “The Golden Key”, commonly regarded as a masterpiece
At the Back of the North Wind (1871) – along with P&G, his most famous work
The Princess and Curdie (1883) – sequel to The Princess and the Goblin, but a lot darker, more violent and destructive

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Saint George and the Dragon

CALDECOTT MEDAL WINNER – 1985

Saint George and the Dragon

Trina Schart Hyman, illustrator

text retold by Margaret Hodges

New York: Little, Brown, 1984

32 pp

ages 5 +

Interests: fairy tales, knights, dragons, princesses, quests, castles, British history, saints

Next: King Arthur stories, more about St. George

Also by this illustrator: Rapunzel, The Serpent Slayer; and Other Stories of Strong Women

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Many Moons

CALDECOTT MEDAL WINNER – 1944

Many Moons

James Thurber, author

Louis Slobodkin, ill.

New York: Harcourt, Brace & Co., 1943

45 pp

age 3+

Interests: fairy tales, princess, castles, moon

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The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)


Rated: PG for adventure violence
Length:  102 min.
Age: 4+                                      commonsense media sez: 9+ *

* There’s a big gap between our age recommendations here, which I have given a lot of thought to. Commonsense usually rates a year older than I do, but five?!   If your child likes action, and is okay with violence at a beginner level (arm’s length, non-gory), then I really think 4 or 5 is all right for this film. My daughter was a ‘slightly brave 4’ and had more trouble with the plot points than the violence. She quite enjoyed it, especially the jumping out of trees, which our stuffed animals still re-enact from time to time. … Plus, both Peter M. Nichols (The New York Times Essential Library : Children’s Movies: a critic’s guide to the best films available on video and DVD), and Ty Burr (The Best Old Movies for Families) agree with me – they both rate this film good for 4 years old and up.

Scary Factor: montage of dastardly doings to the peasants is upsetting but brief. Battles are not intense, see below. Robin is captured, which was hard to watch for my daughter, but just made his inevitable escape more exciting.

Interests: history, action, medieval life, England, knights, castles, old movies

Next: books on Robin Hood, MOVIES: other Errol Flynn: Captain Blood; Disney’s animated Robin Hood (1973)

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Robin Hood (1973)

Rated: G
Length:  83 min.
Age: 4+                      commonsense media sez:  5+

Scary Factor: Much brawling, though very slapsticky. Battle at climax involves fire and threat. At the end it appears for a moment that Robin has been killed, but the suspense doesn’t last long.

Interests: Robin Hood, history, British history, kings, knights, castle, romance

Next: MOVIE: The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.