Today, we feature Michael Morpurgo, author of the middle-grade chapter book, Toto: The Dog-gone Amazing Story of the Wizard of Oz. This retelling of the classic is from Toto’s point of view. Each chapter begins as he tells his tale to his puppies—only one of which usually stays awake until the end.
A former Children’s Laureate, Morpurgo has published over 150 books. His novel, War Horse, was successfully adapted into a Tony Award-winning Broadway play and a Golden Globe-nominated film by Steven Spielberg. Morpurgo’s books include retellings such as Pinocchio by Pinocchio (told from Pinocchio’s viewpoint), also a collaboration with illustrator, Emma Chichester Clark.
CHRISTINE VAN ZANDT: Welcome to Kite Tales! What influenced your decision to rewrite The Wizard of Oz?
MICHAEL MORPURGO: We all know the original story from the film and perhaps less from the L Frank Baum book. It is a wonderful and magical tale—funny, frightening—and strange and a wonderful film, but I always felt that there was one character who had little part to play in the story. Dorothy we know and love, but her little dog, Toto, does little more than accompany her on her adventures, providing her with comfort and company, but we never know what he thinks of all that is going on. He just gets carried around a lot. So, I thought why not tell the story again, but through Toto’s eyes. But it was really my friend, the illustrator of Toto, Emma Chichester Clark, who originally had the idea of a retelling the story with her own beloved dog, Plum, as the inspiration for Toto.
CVZ: Please tell us about your writing process.