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The Wizard of Ozby L. Frank Baum and Lisbeth Zwerger
New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Book
Synopses & Reviews
When discussing The Wizard of Oz, it is impossible to ignore the classic 1939 movie, which remains to this day one of the most-watched films of all time (second only to The Sound of Music). Ray Bolger's pretzel-legged Scarecrow, Jack Haley's gentle Tin Man, Bert Lahr's vaudevillian Lion, and Judy Garland's guileless charm have defined Baum's story for generations and are today part of American popular mythology. However, it's important to remember that MGM's Technicolor extravaganza was a loose interpretation of Frank Baum's classic 1900 novel. Like all great stories, The Wizard of Oz is fertile imaginative ground. But only in recent years has the original story begun to emerge from the movie's shadow to spawn a new generation of creative interpretations. The best known of these is undoubtedly Gregory Maguire's bestselling novel, Wicked, which was recently turned into an award-winning Broadway musical. But no less notable is Lisbeth Zwerger's 1996 illustrated edition. Winner of the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award for Illustration, Zwerger is widely recognized as one of the greatest living children's illustrators. Like all of her work, the illustrations that cleverly accent Baum's (abridged) text are distinguished for their subtle wit, ethereal beauty, and quirky singularity. Zwerger's images breathe fresh life into Dorothy Gale's accidental journey to Oz on the back of a twister, ensuring that Baum's great story will continue to live on in the popular imagination. Farley, Powells.com
In his Introduction to the original 1900 edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum stated his intention to create a twentieth-century American fairy tale "solely to please children." In this, he succeeded admirably, for the book has been a childhood favorite for almost a hundred years. It remains America's greatest fairy tale; the land of Oz its most enduring fairyland; and the inhabitants of that magical kingdom an intrinsic part of its folklore.
But the appeal of The Wizard of Oz is universal. Published in every major language, it has been enjoyed by children the world over. And now, nearly a century later, the internationally acclaimed Viennese illustrator Lisbeth Zwerger brings her exceptional artistry and singular vision to a new edition of The Wizard of Oz. Her unique perspective, her blend of whimsy and grace, charm and imagination, offer readers a view of Oz that is fantastic yet familiar, startling yet strangely satisfying. Her vision of Baum's timeless classic — complete with cunningly designed green-tinted glasses to be worn by readers entering the Emerald City — is sure to be treasured by young readers well into the twenty-first century.
"Zwerger's fantastical, delicate, eccentric illustrations bear no resemblance to the vision of the movie; they make the classic tale new again." Publishers Weekly
"Zwerger now brings her extraordinary talents to this modern fairy tale and has created a masterpiece of fantasy. The characters are full of life and humor....Don't miss this new version!" Marilyn Courtot, Children's Literature
"[Zwerger's] paintings lead readers gracefully into the pages, to be surprised and entertained by the story they only think they know from the movie." Kirkus Reviews
"The pages are a tour de force of design....Yet, the artist's style remains subtle: there is much to learn from close inspection of posture, expression, and placement." School Library Journal
After being transported by a cyclone to the land of Oz, Dorothy and her dog are befriended by a scarecrow, a tin man, and a cowardly lion, who accompany her to the Emerald City to look for a wizard who can help Dorothy return home to Kansas.
In his introduction to the original 1900 edition of The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum stated his intention to create a 20th-century American fairy tale. In this, he succeeded admirably, but the appeal of The Wizard of Oz is universal. Published in every major language, it has been enjoyed by children the world over. Full color.
About the Author
Lyman Frank Baum (1856-1919) was born in Chittenango, New York. He tried many careers, including window dresser and theater manager, before becoming a children's writer. He wrote more than 50 children's books, and 14 of these were about the land of Oz. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was first published in 1900 and was an instant success. A musical version of the story was produced within a few years, with lyrics written by Baum himself. In 1939, Hollywood produced the film of the book, which made Dorothy and her friends world-famous.
Lisbeth Zwerger has been accorded nearly every prize that can be given to an illustrator, including the highest international award for lifetime achievement, the Hans Christian Andersen Medal. For the past fifteen years she has devoted her extraordinary talents exclusively to children's literature, to stories as charming and picturesque as her native Vienna. Always surprising, always engaging, always progressing, her work combines technical mastery with an insight and gentle wit so rare and captivating that she has been correctly called one of the finest illustrators of the twentieth century.
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