L. Frank Baum’s children’s story, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, has become one of the most popular of such books worldwide. Published at the beginning of the 20th century, the novel was Baum’s first published work chronicling the tales he had devised to amuse his own children. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz enjoyed an immensely positive reception immediately upon its publication, and the tale of young Kansas girl swept away by a tornado to an extraordinary magical kingdom has become a treasured fantasy classic.
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.