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The Annotated Wizard of Oz (Centennial Edition) Hardcover – September 17, 2000

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Editorial Reviews Review

An updated version of the definitive guide, The Annotated Wizard of Oz provides a facsimile color version of the first edition of L. Frank Baum's children's classic along with extensive notes and a thorough history of the immense Oz project. In his excellent introduction, Michael Patrick Hearn describes the author's early life and interests and the development of his collaboration with W.W. Denslow, the original illustrator for his books.

An energetic and excitable fellow, Baum's devotion to make-believe began in his early 20s, when he joined a small touring theatrical troupe on the East Coast. Later attempts to run a general store and a newspaper in South Dakota (then the Wild West) failed miserably. Although few of his business ventures or artistic efforts had met with success, in 1897 Baum's "Father Goose" rhymes (designed and illustrated by Denslow) became a surprise bestseller, and Baum was able to buy his family a summer cottage on Lake Michigan, christened "The Sign of the Goose," for which he made most of the furniture (goose-themed, of course) and stenciled the walls with a frieze of green geese.

The idea for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, "a modern fairy tale," as he considered it, soon followed, and the book appeared in May 1900. The 10,000-copy first printing sold out in two weeks, and about 90,000 sold within the first year. Hearn goes on to describe the many books that followed, as well as the 1902 musical extravaganza The Wizard of Oz and Baum's subsequent, ill-starred attempts to depict the world of Oz on film. (He died long before the 1939 MGM musical made his fairy tale known around the globe.) In 1907, he told a reporter for the Grand Rapids Herald why he preferred young readers:

To write fairy stories for children, to amuse them, to divert restless children, sick children, to keep them out of mischief on rainy days, seems of greater importance than to write grown-up novels. Few of the popular novels last the year out, responding as they do to a certain psychological demand, characteristic of the time; whereas, a child's book is, comparatively speaking, the same always, since children are always the same kind of folks with the same needs to be satisfied.
Hearn has gone to great lengths in his notes to this facsimile of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, often referring to subsequent volumes in the series, slowly building a key to the rules and history of Oz, pointing out inconsistencies as well as hints to Baum's literary sources (such as Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress), and providing, among other delights, a mini-treatise on malevolent vegetation in Oz. This is an essential volume for the Oz aficionado or the student of children's literature, and a wonderful resource for parents of young readers. --Regina Marler

From Library Journal

We're off to see the Wizard! Many readers of this annotated version of arguably the most famous American fairly tale will be surprised to learn that the 1939 MGM movie musical was based on a best-selling children's book written 100 years ago; far more readers will be astonished to find out that The Wizard was followed by a good 40 sequels, many as popular as the first Oz tale by Baum and illustrator Denslow. This volume reproduces Denslow's color drawings from the first edition (1900) and includes previously unpublished illustrations. Despite the popularity of that work, whose copyright author and illustrator shared, the two never collaborated again. As the self-styled Royal Historian of Oz, Baum went on to write 13 more Oz adventures; his mantel was then passed to Ruth Plumly Thompson, editor of the Philadelphia Public Ledger's Sunday children's page, who produced an additional 19 titles. John R. Neill, illustrator of all the Oz books but the first, then wrote three more sequels, and since his death in 1943 (Baum died in 1919), numerous others have tried their hand at an Oz story. So powerful was the book's spell that its Russian translator, Aleksandr Volkov, wrote several sequels of his own in Russian for Soviet citizens. Hearn, described by the publisher as "the world's leading Oz scholar," mines The Wizard in this wide-ranging assay of the multifarious strands that fed the imaginations of Baum and Denslow. His explanations and conjectures are enhanced by commentary from such luminaries as Salman Rushdie and Gore Vidal. Of comparable weight to the annotations are the extensive biographical sketches of Baum and Denslow, which elucidate the era in which the book was conceived. The annotations can wander at times, perhaps unavoidably, into tenuous speculation or somewhat irrelevant asides, yet the book is invaluable in pointing out discrepancies that generations of children have wondered about (why the Munchkins live in the east of in some of the Oz books, at other times in the west). And those who know both book and film will delight in discovering why, e.g., the book's Silver Shoes became the film's Ruby Slippers. Hearn, unlike Martin Gardner, the author of The Annotated Alice (LJ 12/99), had many sequels and a film to treat. His painstaking annotation shows us Baum's Wizard as a whiz of a wiz if ever a wiz there was. Highly recommended.
-DEdward Cone, New York
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 396 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (September 17, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393049922
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393049923
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 1.5 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,550 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

72 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Sheila L. Beaumont VINE VOICE on October 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This beautiful, oversize, lavishly illustrated Centennial Edition of L. Frank Baum's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" is a cornucopia of enjoyment for Oz fans. Edited by Oz expert Michael Patrick Hearn, it's annotated in a manner similar to Martin Gardner's "Annotated Alice" (Gardner contributes a preface outlining the history of the "The Annotated Wizard of Oz").
There's a hundred-page introduction, with lots of photos and color illustrations, covering Baum's life, his family, his non-Oz books, and the history of the Oz phenomenon (books, plays, musicals, movies, other Oz authors, and much more).
The story itself is reproduced from the 1900 edition. W.W. Denslow's original illustrations, including all 24 color plates, are here too. Hearn's notes are entertaining, informative and very extensive. For example, there are three double-columned pages dealing with Baum's brief one-page introduction alone!
Anyone who loves the Oz books will find countless hours of pleasure in this delightful book. It's well worth the price!
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40 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Seaman on November 22, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is THE book to honor the centennial of Oz. Everyone in my family - from my 4-year-old grandson to my 89-year old mother is crazy about it. It has everything you ever wanted to know about OZ and more. But seriously, Hearn is the world's leading authority on Baum and his work. (If you saw the delightful TV movie DREAMER OF OZ - it was based on Hearn's work in progress.)
The story behind this book is fascinating in itself. Hearn wrote it while an undergraduate at Bard College, finishing it at age 21; and, with the blessing of Martin Gardner, author of THE ANNOTATED ALICE, Hearn's book was published in 1973 when Hearn was but 23. In the ensuing decades, Hearn has never ceased researching and uncovering more and more incredible Ozzy facts and folklore. All who love Oz will find their appreciation of both the book and the famous movie increased 100-fold (seriously!) by this amazing investigative work. The reader will learn not only all there is to know about Oz, but will also be greatly enriched by the historical and cultural contexts in which Hearn places Baum's work. It is a glorious volume with all of the original illustrations by W. W. Denslow in their original colors, plus many other rare and previously unknown pictures.
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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is quite a thorough reference book for Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It contains about 70 pages of biographical information about Baum, a history of the Oz series including some color plates, and related discussions; a reproduction of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz printed with correct colors with thorough annotations; a 20 page section about W. W. Denslow's illustrations beyond the collaboration with Baum; and 20 pages of bibliography.

Hearn makes a point of saying that the reproduction of the Wizard reproduces the colors correctly; this is probably less of an issue now that high quality facsimile editions are available, unlike say the Dover edition of 1960. There are plenty of annotations, often fairly long, which are interesting but aren't in the category of opening up whole new worlds of perspective on the book. There are also some b&w photos and some other illustrations which hadn't been previously published. The Annotated Wizard is probably most of interest to those with a particular fascination about Oz, and those who are interested in a historical perspective and context for Baum's first Oz book. It would have been nice if it were printed on higher quality paper -- especially the color plates.

28 x 22 cm (landscape), hardcover, 384 pages + 32 unnumbered pages of color plates. New York: Clarkson N. Potter Inc, 1973. LCCN 72-80842.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Donna Stewart-Hardway on December 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Twenty-seven years ago, in 1973, Michael Hearn's first publication of The Annotated Wizard of Oz was released. This past year was my first experience with Michael Hearn's contribution to L. Frank Baum's Oz in his first volume. I had already read Hearn's The Annotated Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens and found I was very impressed by his work.
I completed the 1973 volume about 8 months before the release of the new Centennial Edition. Coming from my Oz film orientation my familiarity with Frank Baum's books was negligible. At one point in private school, as an elementary school student, my teacher who was probably familiar with my Oz film experience gave me the book Wizard of Oz to read. I felt later that she wanted me to know that the MGM film was not the real Wizard of Oz. After reading the book, I was sure that the book must be wrong, as it was not like the film.
I, like many other people, believed for years that the film was what made Frank Baum's books quite famous. This point being erroneous is made quite clear by Michael Hearn's commentary on the matter. I have happily given up my allusion for the actual facts of the matter.
I could take up the torch and go on and on about the fact that Frank Baum was a genius when it came to the children's books he wrote in his life time. He did take children's literature in a new direction away from a kind of formula writing that for years had dominated children's literature. He also brought about not only entertainment but also a thought provoking kind of fairy tale not inane in its nature. He created a cast of characters with all the qualities we see in ourselves and our friends with the ability to overcome problems and learn that life's entire quest has viable answers if we look for them.
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