The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has been enchanting audiences since it was first published in 1900. While many fans may know the work only by its movie counterpart, the world L. Frank Baum built within the books is much more elaborate. Since the more recent publication of Gregory Maguire's Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West and the Broadway play of the same name, fans have had a rekindled interest in Baum's original works from which the retellings draw heavily. Anyone interested in fantasy, magic, and silliness is sure to love this American classic. L. Frank Baum (1856-1919) is one of the most recognized and beloved children's authors, though he is often recognized for only one of his many stories. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is easily his most popular work, though Baum actually wrote 13 sequels in Oz. His writings consist of practically every genre: Baum wrote 55 novels in total, 82 short stories, more than 200 poems, as well as scripts, and other miscellaneous writings. Interestingly, many of his non-Oz works were published under pseudonyms. Baum made many attempts to bring his work to stage and screen, but the most successful productions were not made until after his death.
For many of us, the adventures of Dorothy in Oz will forever be associated not with Judy Garland singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" but with W. W. Denslow's exceedingly odd line drawings for the original editions of Baum's Oz series. The Viennese artist Lisbeth Zwerger, however, goes a long way toward providing a new and refreshed set of images for the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and the humbug wizard. These illustrations are often cockeyed, with occasional realistic details thrown in, like a crow with a corncob in its beak in the first portrait of the Scarecrow. The characters have a poignance and oddity that escaped the makers of the Oz movie.