This delightful children’s classic, adapted for the silver screen in 1939 by MGM and splendidly directed by Victor Fleming, was called ‘The Most Magical Movie in Hollywood.’ This novel by L. Frank Baum, first published in 1900, was to be the first of ten Wizard of Oz children’s classics. Dorothy was a young girl living happily on a farm in Kansas with her Uncle Henry and Aunt Em and their farmhands. When a cyclone rips through, her family rushed for the cyclone cellar, but Dorothy dashed back to rescue her tiny dog, Toto, and both were whisked away in the small house, where Dorothy fell fast asleep. When she awakened, she was ‘not in Kansas anymore,’ but in a strange fantasy land, where she met a good Witch and some tiny Munchkins who told her that in order to leave she must to go to the Emerald City and ask for the Great Wizard of Oz. On her journey she met three strange companions, a Scarecrow, a Tin Woodman, and a Cowardly Lion, who each had special needs. Together they journeyed the treacherous yellow brick road to meet the Great and Terrible Wizard. But when they arrived and finally were able to enter the room where the Wizard ruled, they only saw the image of a head who told them that they must kill the Wicked Witch who was dreaded throughout the land before their wishes would be granted. Their adventure was filled with exciting challenges. Finally, when they again faced the Wizard, they found that he was but ‘a humbug.’ What would they do? Would their wishes ever come true? Could Dorothy ever return to her beloved Aunt Em in Kansas? This powerful children’s novel is truly a delight for all ages.
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.