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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: 08/19/12

cover art

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum was published in 1900 with Baum and the illustrator, William Wallace Denslow, sharing the costs. In 2000 to celebrate the book's centennial, the book was reissued to be a faithful reproduction of the 1900 edition (for better of worse).

Denslow, though, is not the illustrator most people think of when Oz is mentioned. John R. Neill took over the illustrations with the sequel, The Marvelous Land of Oz (aka The Land of Oz) in 1904.

Yet, through the 1939 MGM musical more recently Wicked people know the story within this volume best. Dorothy escapes from her gray existence in equally gray Kansas via a tornado to the magical land of Oz. Her house lands on the Wicked Witch of East and Dorothy thus embarks on her quest to get home.

In the past I've always read the story in a copy I got as a child. It has the Denslow illustrations but not in the full cover extravaganza of the first edition and the 2000 reissue. Denslow may have been a good artist and Baum may have been a great storyteller but they were not good book designers. The black text against the emerald green swashes here and there render the story illegible.

For the book design problems, I am pulling my usual five star rating for the text down to three.

Three stars

Comments (0)

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Comment #1: Sunday, August 19, 2012 at 22:34:45

Stephanie @ Read in a Single Sitting

I re-read this one earlier this year and was astonished by how dark it is.

Sorry to hear about the poor book design, though. :(

Comment #2: Sunday, August 19, 2012 at 20:24:28


At least it did well enough to transcend the awkward book design. The remaining books in the series are works of art. It doesn't strike me as any darker than present day offerings in the genre.

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