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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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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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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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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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VINE VOICEon 4 March 2003
There are great life lessons in this book for adults and children. I like to see the search for courage and a heart etc as a lesson in not looking outside for these things, but remembering instead that they can be found inside us all. We all have hearts, courage and brains etc to use. Slipping to a more child like level ;-), the kids loved this book. The characters are great and clean, and the book is written in an easy style that will captivate them for quite a while. At this price, you can't really grumble either!
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on 16 May 1997
This well-known fairy tale now has illustrations truly worthy of the mysterious and wonderful happenings in the Land of Oz. The European illustrator, Lisbeth Zwerger, states in the book jacket that she had never seen the Hollywood movie version before doing her drawings and that they were drawn simply from the author's own descriptions in the book. I read the book aloud to my daughters, one 10 and the other 6 years old, and found that the book is quite different from the movie. The pictures are exquisite, colorful, and capture the strangeness of the story. Both children loved it. Afterwards, the 6 year old said, "Mom, maybe we should BUY this book," (I had borrowed it from the library). Since then not only have I bought the book, I have given it to my nephew for his birthday and to another friend for her baby shower. It's superb.
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I would think that the vast majority of us have seen the Hollywood film musical of this and quite a lot of us have read the book. If however you haven’t read the book before I should just mention that it isn’t exactly the same as the film, and there is no Judy Garland skipping and singing along a yellow brick road. Frank L Baum went on and wrote a lot more books in this series, but I will admit that although I have read this tale many times, I have never read any of the others.

When poor orphan Dorothy who lives with her aunt and uncle is swept away by a cyclone from Kansas, in the family home she is surprised to find herself in a strange and mystical land. With her dog Toto she sets out to find her way back to Kansas and her aunt and uncle. Of course it isn’t that simple and along the way she befriends a scarecrow who wants brains, a tin woodman who wants a heart, and a lion looking for courage. This group of four friends have to make their way to the Emerald City and seek the assistance of the Great Oz and hope that he can help them all. But instead of his assistance, they are sent out on a quest by him which must be completed before he will offer any help. Full of fun and adventure this still delights children, and even I as an adult still enjoy reading this. This is great to read with your child when they are still learning to read and it will keep them amused.

This kindle edition has all the original illustrations by William Wallace Denslow which are a joy to look at. Although I have read this before this is the first time that I have come across an edition with these original illustrations, which do add an extra dimension to your reading pleasure. Although obviously the illustrations do look best on a tablet device due to a colour screen, these do show up perfectly okay on a standard black and white kindle e-reader. There is an active table of contents here, so if you or your child do manage to lose where you are at you can find the chapter quite quickly again, and there is a short introduction which may be of some interest to adults. Some thought has gone into formatting this into an e-book. Each chapter has an illustration at the top of the page which incorporates the first word, but the publisher has also inserted this word into the text as standard, so if you have your font size quite large you are not going to end up with a page with one word on, and then have to go over to the next one to read the rest of the sentence.

This edition has been produced to a high quality by the publishers and is a treat and a real pleasure to read.
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on 21 April 2016
One star because disappointed that Amazon has mixed up customer reviews. The main review under this listing shows colourful illustrations that have no relation to this book! The illustrations in this book (Sterling Children's Classics) are few and far between, are black and white and rather uninspiring, adding nothing to a child's reading experience, e.g. picture of toto on his own, picture of the scarecrow on his own,,,,I think you get the picture (no pun intended). Extremely difficult to keep my 4 year-old's interest and she currently eats sleeps and breathes the Wizard of Oz!
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