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Follow the yellow brick road

The yellow brick road will take a turn through Bonne Terre this weekend, and traveling that road will be Margaret Pellegrini, an original Munchkin from the Wizard of Oz.

Pellegrini is one of few remaining living Munchkins. She is making a rare public appearance at the Bonne Terre Family Fun Center Sunday afternoon beginning at 12:30 p.m. to help promote a book co-written by Farmington graduate, Jonathon Shirshekan, and recognized Oz expert John Fricke.

The book, “The Wizard of Oz: An Illustrated Companion to the Timeless Movie Classic,” has been published by Fall River Press, a division of Barnes and Nobles. A limited number of copies will be available for autographing at the event. To reserve a copy, call the Family Fun Center at 573-358-5007. Reservations, while recommended, are not required. No other memorabilia will be signed that day. The book signing will last until 3:30 p.m.

Pellegrini played two roles in the movie, a dancing girl with a flower-pot hat and a sleepyhead girl, popping out of an egg in an oversize nest. She was 15 at the time the movie was filmed and has many interesting recollections about Judy Garland and the making of the movie. She wrote the foreword to Shirshekan and Fricke’s book.

Shirshekan has loved the movie since he was a toddler, and has been an avid collector of its memorabilia ever since he can remember.

In the fledgling days of e-Bay, he happened across a Judy Garland scrapbook and snapped it up for a cool — and undervalued — $2,000.

“They had misspelled the name,” he explained, “so I was the only one who found it.”

He wanted to know how to preserve his newly acquired treasure and began corresponding with Fricke through a Web site for Oz fans.

Fricke has an extensive collection of Oz memorabilia. He has written two books about Oz and two about Garland. He was also nominated for a Grammy for Best Album notes for the Judy Garland 25th Anniversary Retrospective CD and received Emmy nominations for the PBS and A & E Cable documentaries on Judy Garland.

The two continued to correspond over the years, comparing notes and talking about items in their collection. As the 70th anniversary neared, they decided they should put together a scrapbook of their own about the making of Oz using items from their collections and in particular items from Garland’s scrapbook.

The resulting book pulls back the curtain on America’s most-loved movie with many never-before-published photographs, insider details and anecdotes about the making of the movie. The book is still very accessible to a general audience as well.

“Anyone who loves the movie will love this book,” Shirshekan said. “We worked hard to keep it balanced between the hardened fans and anyone who just loves the film. It’s a perfect primer to pick up and learn more about this amazing production that we all know and love so well.”

Renee Jean can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 117 or at

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