Friday, May 22, 2015

Blog Tour: The Wizard of Oz: The Classic Edition by Frank Baum, illustrated by Charles Santore

I have to make a confession right off the bat: up until now, I had never read The Wizard of Oz.  Sure, I knew the story, all my friends did.  As kids, we watched the Judy Garland movie version of the story, but I was totally turned off by the flying monkeys, so I just never read the book.  Well, thanks to this beautiful new edition, all that's changed.

It's all there in this edition - Dorothy's life is pretty dull and grey living on the farm with Uncle Henry and Aunt Em.  Luckily, she has her little dog Toto to make her laugh.   But when a cyclone sweeps Dorothy and Toto up, setting them down in Oz, suddenly life is no longer dull and grey.  And yet, as colorful as Oz is, Dorothy just wants to go back home and to do that, she must follow the yellow brick road to the Emerald City and find the wonderful wizard who can send her back to Kansas.

Along the way, Dorothy and Toto make three friends - a scarecrow who wishes to have brains in his head instead of straw, a rusted Tin Woodsman who would to have a heart and a cowardly lion who just wants some courage.  So, these three new friends go along with Dorothy to find the wizard who, they believe, can give them all just what they want.

Of course, their journey is not without pitfalls, and even when they get to Oz and find the wizard, there are still trials and tasks to fulfill, but that makes for an interesting, exciting story that young readers won't soon forget in this beautifully illustrated, somewhat abridged version of Frank Baum's classic tale about friends and family, courage, intelligence and love, and most importantly, home and what that means.

What sets this book apart from other editions are the incredible painted illustrations of the story, all  reimagined by Charles Santore. In his introduction, Michael Patrick Hearn writes that Santore likes to do "purely narrative illustrations" in children's book.  That way, the story can be read on two levels - pictorially and textually.   When I read that, I first went through the book just paying attention to the illustrations and sure enough, the whole story is contained in the images.  Then, I read the story and compared the text to the illustrations.  It was a wonderfully complimentary marriage of text and image.  I can only magine the conversations this will generate with kids not yet reading, beginning readers and more advanced readers, making this an ideal book for all of them.  How exciting!

I was particularly struck by Santore's use of color.  In the beginning, when Dorothy is still in Kansas, the predominate color is grey, but when the cyclone sets the house down and Dorothy opens the door, the reader can see just is a hint of green and blue.  In fact, Dorothy finds herself in a "a country of marvelous beauty." (pg 20)

As she sets out for Oz along the yellow brick road, the predominant palette color is bright yellow, though in the forest where Dorothy meets the cowardly lion, it changes to dark green.  And once the travelers arrive in Oz, the color is bright green, so bright they have to wear glasses to protect their eyes.  It is clear that Santore gave a lot of thought to how he wanted to illustrate The Wizard of Oz and he has done a really spot on job of it.

I also like his interpretation of Dorothy, making her a younger, more realistic version of Dorothy, so that her innocence and venerability in the face of so much really stand out.

The Wizard of Oz: The Classic Edition is a beautifully rendered book that is sure to quickly become a family favorite.

This book is recommended for readers age 5+
This book was received from the publisher, Applesauce Press

Be sure to check out the other stops on The Wizard of Oz Blog Tour to see what they have to say:

Read, Write, Reflect

Igniting Writing

Watch. Connect. Read.

Curls and a Smile

Read Now, Sleep Later

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