Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum - Book 1 for Children's Day

The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum (condensed)
Illustrated by Charles Santore
Copyright 1991
Sterling Publishing - Children's Fantasy
94 pages
This lovely version of the timeless classic, The Wizard of Oz, was condensed and illustrated in 1991 and has just been reprinted by Sterling Books in 2009. I have never read The Wizard of Oz, the original; I've just seen the movie with Judy Garland singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and cowered at those scary flying monkeys that I used to believe existed purely for the sake of giving Little Bookfool in Training nightmares.

I was pleasantly surprised by the real story. Condensed as it is, it really just gives the reader a taste of the full-length novel but it's a much more adventurous, upbeat tale than I realized. I think the flying monkeys warped my viewpoint. They are, in fact, not all bad. It's just when they're in the power of the wicked witch that they're frightening.

Charles Santore's breathtaking illustrations make this a perfect book for gift-giving. Here's an example:

There is a lovely gingham ribbon to hold one's place, but I read it in one sitting. I can easily imagine a new reader following along as a parent reads a little each night and then marking his place as he works his way through the book when old enough to read on his own. Or her own. I hate the new English "let's give credit to the females" pronoun bit. Sorry. Opinionated little booger, aren't I?

Anyway, gorgeous book, highly recommended. I received my copy from Sterling Books, unsolicited. I do not review unsolicited books unless I love them or think there's something about them that's worth talking about, so just bear that in mind. In fact, all of today's Children's Day books came from Sterling in the same manner (update: except for Book #5, which came from a different source) -- not requested, but they're worth talking about because, frankly, I think Sterling Books are the most stunningly beautiful books on the planet. I try to pass them on to households with children when I'm through reviewing, but sometimes you'd have to fight me for them.

This is Book 1 for Children's Day. Book 2 coming soon . . .


  1. I am about to pick up The Nutcracker which is a condensed version as well. T man isn't old enough to sit and read it but there will come a day. :)

  2. Krista,

    Yep, that's a good reason to buy condensed. You can always move on to the complete version, later. Now that I've read the condensed Wizard of Oz, I know I want to read the full-length novel. It was much more fun than I expected.

  3. I love Charles Santore's artwork. That must be a gorgeous edition- maybe someday I'll replace my plain one (black/white illustrations) with it!

  4. Jeane,

    It's breathtaking. I'm sure you would love it.

  5. Enjoyed the post...I too have never read the classic book (bad, Insatiable Reader) but I have seen the movie enough times that I should have. **jots on seek out list** The illustrations look wonderful too! Although I am not necessarily the age group they were aiming for, I think picture books at any age are a welcome break from heavier tales. Thanks for sharing!

  6. GMR,

    I feel bad about the fact that I've missed the original classic. The version I read is a children's book, but I thought it helped give me a feel for the "real" story. Yep, I love reading and reviewing children's books because it's nice to sit back and read something just for the sake of beauty and for the mental break from longer works. I miss having little ones to read to. Probably ought to get a job teaching preschool or something similar.


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