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VINE VOICEon 28 November 2008
This chunky hardback in an unusual squarish landscape format is a fascinating new take on this 100 year old classic. On pages that are wonderfully spacious, with quaint typographical touches throughout, L. Frank Baum's original text has inspired a collection of intricate, fascinating and colourful illustrations.
Rawle is a collage artist and here he has had the vision and dedication to create dozens and dozens of interesting imaginative pictures that are reminiscent of a by-gone era.
Rawle has not been distracted by the 1939 Judy Garland film (which included red shoes when Baum described silver) and has chosen rather to go right back to basics: it is great to see the exquisite attention to the original. For example when Baum describes the munchkins, he says they wore round hats that rose to a point a foot above their heads with little bells around the brims - and in this book, Rawle has made them just so.
Every picture is perfectly fashioned from real objects with a touch of genius helped, I am sure, with some 21st century image manipulation, and they are amazing.
The key characters appear to have been chosen carefully from a 1950s toy box, and I love the tin man, the cowardly lion and the flying monkeys.
Some of the collages are undoubtedly a little unsettling and the wicked witch with her telescope eye is rather scary, like the puppets in an old fashioned Punch and Judy. However, the pictures are certainly no more disturbing than those damaged toys in the nasty boy's room in Toy Story and most small children take those in their stride, and Rawle's characters are entirely appropriate to Baum's accimpanying narrative.
This is a striking, brave and rather kooky illustrative approach and it's a style that won't appeal to everyone. However the more you look, the more you notice the detail in the pictures and the exquisite care that has gone into creating this masterpiece. I particularly like the bead plants and a magnificent field of poppies with their centres fashioned from black fruit pastilles and headed pins.
It's a theatrical work and there's actually a two minute youtube clip (youtube com/watch?v=-rMmPlFWpNQ) about the extravagant effort that has gone into its construction that's well worth a view before you buy.
One to treasure and pass down the generations.
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on 1 June 2010
By now I am sure that everyone knows the story of The Wizard of Oz. I think I was just a toddler the first time I watched the movie and I loved it so much my mum bought me the book. After I read it something happened to shock my parents; I refused to watch the movie ever again. It wasn't that I hated the book, it was quite the contrary. The book was so magical the film was disappointing in comparison.
I understand now that there is so much more you can put in a book than you can in an hour and a half movie, but as a child I was annoyed that my favourite parts of the book were missing from the film. There was one chapter in particular where Dorothy and her friends enter the Dainty China Country that I especially would have loved to have seen on screen.
Whether you love or hate the movie I highly recommend reading the book. The background stories of each or her companions is reason enough to buy the book. Even if you are a child of six or sixty I'm sure you will find something new about this old and well known story.
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For this holiday season I am coming on strong as the Ghost of Christmas past and one of the things I am strongly advocating are annotated editions of beloved books. One title that has to be on any short lists of beloved books would be "The Wizard of Oz." As you know, this book is a potent political allegory representing a nation divided between an agricultural past, represented by the Scarecrow, and the industrial future, symbolized by the Tin Woodman. Baum's position on the free silver issue that dominated American politics at the turn of the last century is self-evident, from the silver slippers that Dorothy wears to the caricature of William Jennings Bryan as the Cowardly Lion.
Of course, this interpretation has been around for years and you can certainly make up your mind after reading what Michael Patrick Hearn has put together in this wonderful Centennial Edition of "The Annotated Wizard of Oz." For starters, we have all of the original illustrations by W. W. Denslow, reproduced in their correct colors. That alone is worth having, but this volume also includes lots of rare drawings, photographs, and maps having to do with Baum's classic tale. Hearn's annotations focus not only on where Baum got his ideas but where "The Wizard of Oz" fits into the grand scheme of folk tales and children's stories as well as Baum's collective writings. Obviously, Hearn knows about a lot more than just Baum's career and writings, but he avoids sounding like a scholar speaking from an ivory tower.
Obviously, "The Annotated Wizard of Oz" is not for the first time reader. I would contend that an annotated edition of this, or any other beloved book like "Anne of Green Gables," "Alice in Wonderland," or "The Hobbit," is for those who are in double-figures when it comes to the number of times they have read the book in question. This is a chance to discover new levels of meanings. There is really no need for persuasion here: if you know how you feel about this story and you see what is collected in this annotated version, that should be more than enough to convince you this is worth getting for yourself (or someone you love) even if you do not find it under the tree on Christmas morning.
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on 20 March 2001
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It is years since I last read Lyman Frank Baum's classic children's tale, but I saw this book and thought I would like to read it again. In all Baum wrote fourteen Oz books, as well as other novels, short stories and poems, but it will be this book first published in 1900, that he will always be best remembered for.

This is also the book that was made into the famous musical movie by MGM, and that probably virtually everyone has seen, even if they have never read the book. The film itself only follows the book in general terms, as indeed there are differences, and in all the book is more darker. The film left out many of Dorothy's adventures and changed other things, most notably in the book Dorothy has silver shoes, not red. For 110 years this tale has fascinated the reading public, and long may it continue so.

So if you really want to know what happened to Dorothy then you must read this book. I personally have just sat down and read it in one sitting, as it is a great piece of escapism for adults. You can read this to the little ones, and when they are old enough they can read it themselves, and then when they have children the cycle starts again. This is a great little book to have on your bookshelf, that is ideal for all the family.
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on 9 March 2003
This classic among children's books tells the story of how Dorothy and her dog Toto find their way back to Kansas from a distant, unknown land. It is truly delightful from beginning to end and will surely be loved and enjoyed by readers of all ages, not just children. The story is told in a simple, yet beautiful way and will grip the reader to the last page with Dorothy and Toto's wild adventures. From the sad story of the Winged Monkeys to the walk across the "Dainty China Country", it is a good start for any young bookworm and a charming read for any adult.
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on 4 September 2012
"The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" by L. Frank Baum is the latest book I have read as part of an online Fantasy Classics Challenge I have taken part in. Like many of the other books I have read in this challenge, it is another story that I am aware of through movies and other media.

The first half of the story is actually quite close to what you could expect if you have seen the famous 1939 classic including a rather grey Kansas. Dorothy and her dog Toto get whisked away by a Tornado and land in Oz, accidentally killing the wicked witch of the East in the process. She immediately desires to find a way home and so begins an adventure along the Yellow Brick road to request the help of the great wizard that lives in the Emerald City.

However, the 2nd half of the book is a rather unknown and surreal affair that involves a journey across an entire land made out of porcelain china. Everything there is made of china including the people, animals and buildings and I can understand why the makers of the movie really didn't fancy trying to create this element of the story on the big screen.

This novel really is quite a surreal and quirky adventure and I did enjoy the journey it took me on. It can be quite hard to read a book like this when you have already seen the movie so many times but I found the differences between the two formats to be part of what kept me entertained. One of the little differences that really made me smile was when I found out that the Emerald City is not actually green, but the people in the city are made to wear green tinted glasses so it appears that way.

In all honesty though, I still think the movie is a slightly better form of the story. There is just a little bit more fun ingrained in that portrayal and the Wicked Witch of the West was used to a much more powerful extent. I also think the violence is toned down quite a lot in the movie which makes it a little bit more suited for children. I couldn't actually believe how many animal beheadings littered the novel.

The one specific little issue I had with the book itself though was the way in which the story was structured. The story was presented to the reader in sharp bite size chunks that felt like mini adventures within a very limited overall arc. It all just felt very piecemeal to me and spoilt the flow a little. However, I can see the advantage this provides when reading the book to a child who would happily enjoy the quick conclusions to the adventure contained in each chapter.

Overall, this was a fun little read that explored a more surreal side to the Wizard of Oz legend. I enjoyed exploring the little strands of difference between the book and the movie and it was quite an eye opener reading a children's fantasy book that didn't try and portray a moral conclusion to every action. I am probably going to try and continue my journey through Baum's Oz books just to see where the adventures in his rather quirky world could lead next.
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Puffin Chalk are a new addition to Puffin's Classics editions, with beautiful chalk designs on the covers by illustrator Mary Kate McDevitt. There are a few books in this series and all are lovely additions for your child's bookshelf. Small and light, they are the perfect size for small hands. The book has a lovely retro feel about it, with purposely jagged pages and beautiful front and back cover artwork. Although this edition is not a large, hardback, it will undoubtedly be more comfortable to hold and begs to be picked up and read. This new series in the Puffin Chalk range would make the ideal gift for a young reader (approx 7+ depending upon reading age) and I hope that Puffin will produce a boxed set in the near future.
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on 27 February 2004
This fascinating tome is an in-depth look the L. Frank Baum and his famous work, The Wizard of Oz. The book begins with a biography of Baum that turns into a biography of the book, complete with information on all of the plays and movies that were derived from it. Next comes the bulk of the book, a reproduction of the original 1900 edition of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, with pages upon pages of notes sprinkled throughout. As an added bonus, the book ends with William Wallace Denslow's story, Adventures of the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Little Girl.
This book is absolutely fascinating! The introduction (biography) is brimming with many wonderful photos, and even several of Baum's maps. As might be expected of the notes for the book, I found many long-winded and/or irrelevant, while others completely tickled my fancy. This, though, probably merely reflects my own tastes; another reader would probably cherish some notes I disliked and vice versa. Overall, I think that this book is a wonderful resource for anyone who is interested in the Wizard of Oz, and I highly recommend it.
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on 22 March 2007
Thought the book looked a bit bulky at first but open it up and the most incredable tornado springs out of the first page, each page has a wonderful centre piece pop up. and every page of the book (which are smaller pages either side of the main popup) has some kind of smaller pop up. some of the things that emerge out of the book, such as the hot air balloon, are pretty impressive, and they all fold away very well. very good book.. got it as a present for my daughter but had to stop myself playing with it in case i wore it out.
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