Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Annotated Wizard of Oz

This centennial edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum with pictures by W. W. Denslow and with an introduction and notes by Michael Patrick Hearn is worth reading. Whether you have read the story before, viewed the popular 1939 MGM movie version, or simply because you hear references to Oz and wonder what all the fuss is about.
The introduction is lengthy, about 100 pages, but well illustrated with photos, line drawings and reproductions of books and artwork from Baum's life and time. Placing Baum both within a historical context (he wrote the book in 1899) and a literary context (the children's fantasy Alice in Wonderland had been popular since 1865), the biographical essay provides details about the variety of Baum's jobs before writing the Oz books, and the partnership with W. W. Denslow, the original illustrator of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
What a treat to read the original text and illustrations together! I was surprised by how young Dorothy looks, how large the lion looms over her, and how friendly the Winged Monkeys' smile at everyone. If you can only picture the Judy Garland movie when you think of the Wizard of Oz story, these illustrations will certainly expand your imagination!
The annotations of the original text are referenced using small numbered notes in the margins. Readers who prefer to enjoy the original text and illustrations may do so easily, but those who are intrigued by the explanations, expansions and discussions of various topics will be drawn into the interspersed annotation pages as they read. Not only did I read all of the annotations for myself, I read some of them out loud to friends and family. For example, did you know that "According to the 1902 musical extravaganza of The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy lives near Topeka"?

Treat yourself and give the Wonderful Wizard of Oz a close reading with help from the special edition The Annotated Wizard of Oz!

I read 450 pages.


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