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A condensed version. But still the Land of Oz as Baum intended it!
on July 17, 2014
Before I say anything about the book itself, I want to point out that: This version is a VERY condensed one compared to L. Frank Baums' original book that was written in 1900. Baum's Land of Oz is surprisingly much more gruesome and darker than many may know or realize! But Charles Santore's illustrations are displayed like a miraculous opera, but as a result, also abridged.
(Like many of the original fairytales and children's fantasy stories, a few of it's dark themes had to be unfortunately dropped.)
Society has been brainwashed into believing the Land of Oz is a happy, cheerful, colorful place. A candy coated Technicolor dream world of Dorothy due to the Judy Garland film that consisted of painted cardboard backgrounds for scenery and dare I say, bad miscasting.
While Baum on the otherhand intended his Dorothy to be a mere little girl no older than twelve. And Oz to be a place that truly does exist, but an uncharted and uncivilized realm where magical and marvelous things are still possible. A place where if woodsmens cut off their own limbs, they can have them replaced with tin ones. The true back story of the Tinman is shockingly gory for a children's novel.
Several elements, adventures, characters and places are left out such as the flesh eating Kalidahs, and the small enclave known as China Country, inhabited by the little living china people of Oz. And not to mention that in Baums' book the Tin Woodman also cuts off the heads of several animals such as a wild cat and fourty of the Wicked Witch of the West's Killer Wolves. So if your buying this for small children, it's definitely a version that may be more fitting as it was done to give the reader a tantalizing glimpse of the real story without giving the whole story away which again is much more darker, possibly too dark for some people's taste. If one wants to read the entire original book by Baum, they will simply have to buy a copy (or read online), if they are not satisfied with this one. So, without further ado....
WOW! How wonderful and beautifully illustrated this book is. I have been a fan of Artist Charles Santores' work for a very long time now. I own books such as Snow White and Han Christian Andersens' Little Mermaid, both of the illustrations are done by him. So when I heard he had done the Wizard of Oz as well it was a must have for my Santore/Storybook Collection. I cannot tell you how faithful and spot on these Oz illustrations are. There are many versions of L. Frank Baums' classic tale, but only few have actually captured the essence of Baums' story. And I must say, Santore totally NAILED IT! He paid attention to little details which brought the book to life for me. For example: in the original Oz book, the magic footwear Dorothy wore was not Ruby Slippers, but "Silver Shoes" with pointed toes. When Dorothy arrives in Oz after the tornado she is first greeted by the Good Witch of the North who is NOT Glinda, but a little old woman who's described as wearing all white and is accompanied by three Munchkin men who are described as wearing only the color blue, as blue is the favorite color of the Munchkin people. Glinda's character does not make an appearance until the very end of the story. And unlike the iconic film by MGM, (which bares little resemblance to the book), Glinda does not float around in a giant magic bubble, but lives in a ruby palace guarded by her army of adolescent female soldiers. It was little things like these that Santore paid close attention to, and that made the book worth buying, even if it is indeed a "watered-down" version, it was still a magical experience for me. I am a baby sitter, and this was a great read for the children I was watching. I am glad this version was made and left the grim aspects of Baums' tale out while still staying loyal to Baum's work. I wouldn't want to be responsible for giving someone else's children any nightmares.
This book was not too long, but not too short either, and is perfect for a bedtime story. For any Oz fan or bedtime story lovers, it is: A MUST HAVE!!! *****Five Stars!