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The Wizard of Oz

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Santore's illustrations for this new edition of Baum's classic tale work on two levels. They capture the story's epic sweep in numerous colorful landscapes and dramatic tableaux, and they are models of sustained characterization. Though the paintings occasionally lapse into Saturday morning TV cartoon art, they generally evoke the many beloved scenes with verve. In contrast to a rather mundane scarecrow, Santore's cowardly lion is a splendid beast--looming over his companions, lower jaw ever a-quiver. The episodes in the Emerald City are appropriately green-tinted (the book's pages, in fact, are green in these sequences) and cleverly framed by faceted, emeraldlike borders. Unfortunately, the text is abridged, and significant sequences and characters are missing. These cuts have robbed Santore of the chance to realize fully his vision of Oz, and readers of the opportunity to enjoy the story as Baum told it. Morrow's facsimile of the first edition illustrated by W. W. Denslow and Holt's edition illustrated by Michael Hague are better versions of this enduring favorite. All ages. (Sept.)

PreS-Gr 4-- While not precisely a picture-book version, this title features full-color illustrations on every page and a considerably shortened text. Santore's paintings are striking and they effectively mirror the familiar adventures of Dorothy and her friends. Unfortunately, the abridgment of the text is less successful. Much is made of the fact that few additions were made, leaving much of Baum's language intact. However, the deletion of some descriptive and transitional phrases and of various events creates a text that is much flatter and less engaging than the original. While the brevity and brisk tone do make the story suitable for very young listeners, the danger exists that those who have enjoyed Santore's version will never experience the magic of Baum's complete work. This concern, of course, must be weighed against the fine quality of the artwork and the fact that the book will undoubtedly prove useful in many collections. The decision to include abridged texts rests with each library. For those who do include such items, this Wizard of Oz will be a worthwhile investment. --Lisa Dennis, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

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