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I, Toto: The Autobiography of Terry, the Dog who was Toto Hardcover – September 15, 2001

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Challenger Deep
2015 National Book Awards - Young People's Literature Winner
Get your copy of this year's National Book Award winner in the Young People's Literature category, "Challenger Deep" by Neal Shusterman. Hardcover | Kindle book | See more winners

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"I don't mean this to sound full of myself but this Wizard of Oz story? It's all about me!!! I'M IN ALMOST EVERY SCENE IN THE PICTURE!!!" A leaf from Judy Garland's long lost diary? Secret tapes of a Munchkin? No, it's the original diary of Terry, the dog who played Toto in the classic 1939 MGM film. Writing in plain, even humble prose (although she describes her part as vital and her performance as flawless, she understands that Judy Garland was the star of the film), Terry also reveals the grueling before-scenes enemas, snafus on the set and the great difficulty of playing a scene with flying monkeys. A curious cross between Oz trivia, a parody and a chronicle of Terry's actual career (she made 14 movies and worked with Shirley Temple, Spencer Tracy and Joan Crawford), this entertaining and fanciful "diary" also reveals intriguing facts about the economics and mechanics of training animals for films and, specifically, the career of Carl Spitz, Terry's manager and one of the most respected animal trainers in the business. While Carroll, a Wizard of Oz fan, is not as overtly clever or deliciously mean-spirited as Patrick Dennis, the author of Little Me, the classic 1961 parody of star autobiographies, he isn't debilitatingly fawning, either. This fun little tome should both amuse and please dog lovers, as well as fans of Oz and collectors of Hollywood arcana.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

WILLARD CARROLL owns the world's largest collection of Wizard of Oz memorabilia, which is documented in his book 100 Years of Oz (Stewart, Tabori & Chang). He is the writer and director of the feature films Playing by Heart (Miramax) and Tom's Midnight Garden. He is also the producer and writer of the animated film series The Brave Little Toaster.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Stewart, Tabori and Chang (September 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158479111X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1584791119
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,166,375 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Matthew G. Sherwin HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I, Toto is a delightfully well written book by Willard Carroll about the life of Terry, a Cairn Terrier who became famous in movies. The book is based on a scrapbook Willard Carroll found that documented the life and movie career of this well trained dog; and the book is primarily set up to look just like a book typed on an old typewriter--written, of course, by the dog itself.

The book starts with the story of how Terry was born, adopted and eventually given up by her owners because of her troubles with housetraining; and we learn how Carl Spitz professionally trained dogs to perform in movies. Spitz, an excellent trainer who worked with many dogs, wound up training Terry professionally. Spitz used both kindness and discipline to train his dogs, including Terry, very well; his talents are obvious when we consider that Terry (aka Toto) appeared in at least fourteen major motion pictures including The Wizard Of Oz.

Carroll cleverly writes the memoirs of Terry, or Toto, in the first person as if the dog herself had written the book. This provides the reader with an extra slice of humor when Carroll writes about things that happened on the sets of pictures or in Carl Spitz's training camp for dogs. Carroll does an excellent job of getting readers to be charmed out of their trees by Terry who eventually becomes renamed Toto for the sake of her career. A movie star dog has to consider Hollywood politics, after all!

The book is filled with wonderful reproductions of ads for the movies Terry was in; and we see numerous publicity shots from movies including Bright Eyes with Shirley Temple and Terry as Rags the dog.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Katrina MacGregor on September 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a Cairn Terrier "mom" of many many years, I had to have this book, no matter how good or not good it may turn out to be. As it turns out, it is PRICELESS! So many pictures, clips, factoids, behind the scenes stuff...more like a well done scrapbook than a straight book. This is a must have! I will treasure it always.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 9, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This heartwarming, charming book tells the real story of Terry, a once-abandoned cairn terrier, who became Toto in the Wizard of Oz movie. Rescued from an uncertain future by dog trainer Carl Spitz, the story is told from Terry's point of view. The "auto-biography" is written in such a charming way we can believe that Terry did write it. The discovery of Terry's scrapbook, kept safe for 50 years in a tin box, in a pile of rubble that would soon become part of the Ventura Freeway, is akin to the magic of Oz. Lovingly created (we assume) by Terry/Toto's "guardians," the Spitz's, we rejoice in its recovery and are glad Mr. Carroll has shared Terry's story with the world. As a Cairn Terrier owner, and grieving the recent loss of a 17-year companion, this book lifted my heart. The Toto in my life, Andy, is memorialized forever. The book inspired me to open my heart and share my life with another Cairn Terrier. If you love cairn terriers, dogs, Toto, or Oz, you MUST read this book. A wonderful gift for any dog lover.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Elaine Willingham on September 24, 2001
Format: Hardcover
If you want an Oz book that is fun to read to yourself or to children, this is the ticket! Page after page, I said to myself "this is just darling!" Toto is America's favorite canine and The Wizard of Oz is the most endearing movie of all time. I am so glad that Willard Carroll put this book together it is just terrific.
Hollywood's Golden Era is captured so well as you easily travel through page after page. I promise that you won't put it down until you're finished and the kids (especially the ones who watch the movie on a daily basis) will love for you to read this to them.
Congratulations to Author Carroll, who has Oz in his heart and soul and managed to put it down on paper for all of us to enjoy. How many times I've watched that movie and simply focused on Toto, who was just the cutest dog in the world. He makes everybody want to adopt him, well, now this is the next best thing.
Elaine Willingham
St. Louis, MO
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By B. Schuster on November 8, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I read this in an evening. Really enjoyed it as I am the owner of 2 Cairns and a lifelong fan of the Wizard of OZ.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Good Brother Cadfael on March 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I was looking at silver-screen bio's in the library when I came across this clever little volume. Author Willard Carroll knows a lot about Oz, and he also understands a lot about animals and the people who love them. Whether you are a fan of the Wonderful Land of Oz, a dog-lover, or both, you are going to get such a kick out of this book. If you're like me, you're going to breeze through it, and then go back and read it again, preferably with someone nearby to whom you can read the funniest, most touching or trivia-friendly bits. Toto, who began as Terry, a little dog abandoned by her owners, has a very good friend indeed in Mr. Carroll.

This is a story about Toto, but it is also the story of Carl Spitz, who had been training dogs since 1919. When he came to Hollywood in 1927, he opened a training school which combined kindness and discipline, an innovation which most at the time considered "nonsense." Mr. Spitz and his dogs broke into silent movies; he developed a series of silent commands when talkies came along. His dogs appeared with the stars: Prince the Great Dane and Lawrence Olivier in Wuthering Heights; Buck the Saint Bernard and Clarke Gable in The Call of the Wild. The English mastiff and the Scottish terrier were in major productions, too.

Mr. Carroll captures Toto's "voice" so perfectly, even using a font that looks like my mother's old portable Underwood typewriter for the star's narrative. Toto also comments on the dozens of photos, movie stills and other memorabilia of a busy career with red pen.

Toto hobnobs with the stars and has some once-in-a-lifetime moments, such as when Mr. Gable came to visit the kennel owned by Carl Spitz, the trainer who adopted and worked with Toto and many other canine performers.
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