Off the Shelf: The Wizard of Oz

Except for “Alice in Wonderland,” I’m not sure if any children’s classic has been illustrated so prolifically as “The Wizard of Oz.”

I wonder how illustrators feel when they get the opportunity to create renderings for timeless classics. Do they love it because they get to participate in such a popular cannon of work? Or do they hate it because all the devoted followers nitpick at their illustrations?

Well, regardless of how he felt, it certainly seems like Charles Santore had fun with this 1991 version of “Oz” published by Sterling Children’s Books exclusively for Kohl’s.

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You’ve probably already noticed that Dorothy is wearing silver shoes rather than ruby slippers. That’s because the text is condensed from L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” so it’s faithful to the original and probably closely resembles those children’s abridged classics. I’m a big fan of this, as opposed to modifying the story so it’s unrecognizable.

Santore’s illustrations are very realistic, especially the Kansas images.

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Like the movie, the Kansas bits are monochrome.

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But once Dorothy Gale and Toto step into Oz…

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…the book is ablaze with color!

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And believe me when I say that this book is literally covered in illustrations. Every page has some kind of image on it — great for capturing the imaginations of artistic kids who don’t like to read. See how the text is wrapped around this corner illustration of Dorothy receiving the silver shoes?

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And she’s off down the yellow brick road!

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Along the way, she encounters her iconic trio of companions. The scarecrow…

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…the Tin Man…

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…and the Cowardly Lion.

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I love this dynamic image of the quartet stuck in the poppies. The lion looks immense.

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And the renderings of Oz are overwhelming to the eye, but the monochromatic color scheme gives it unity.

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They meet Oz, the Great and Terrible.

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Santore portrays the Wicked Witch of the West as an old hag. You can’t see her telescopic eye in this image, but Santore does show it in others. And she doesn’t have green skin. Sorry Elphaba.

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I just love this image of Dorothy and the WWW. The shadows make this one.

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And look at that awesome swirl of water about to destroy the WWW. She crossed the line when she put on the silver slipper. Never mess with a girl’s shoes.

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Then Dorothy finds out that Oz is a crackpot.

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And, finally, after all that, she realizes that she’s had the power to go home all along. Just three clicks of her magic heels should take care of it, according to Glinda.

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But I must admit that I do like the film’s “There’s no place like home” as opposed to Baum’s “Take me home to Aunt Em!”

The images here are just a fraction of the illustrations in the book. It’s a lot of fun for Oz fans who like photo-realistic illustrations.

And if you get an itch to crochet the main characters, don’t forget about my FREE Wizard of Oz amigurumi collection. Just click on the thumbnails below to view the patterns.

Dorothy  Scarecrow

Tin Man  Lion

Glenda  Witch

QUESTION OF THE DAY

Which character in “The Wizard of Oz” is your favorite?

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