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 . . .