Charles Santore turns L. Frank Baum’s classic story, The Wizard of Oz (Applesauce, ages 6 and up) into an heirloom book. There are 100 pages in this abridgment of Dorothy’s adventures, all fully illustrated, most full-page and many double-page spreads. Together they reinvigorate the tale in an oversized book which speaks volumes about the rich imaginations of Baum and Santore while making the book accessible to younger readers. I am including some pictures to give you a sense of the book’s magnificence. Apologies in advance to Charles Santore about my pathetic photographic and embedding skills! You need to see the book to experience and appreciate the rich colors and exquisite detailing, but I really wanted to give you a peek at its splendors.
The pictures start with the portrait of a ruffled-haired grinning Dorothy, her arms full of Toto. Both of them appearing as if they’ve halted only briefly from their latest rollicking adventure across the prairie. Santore immediately shows his referencing wit as ” a tiny little bluebird flies” off the page in the background.
A cyclone blossoms in the center of the next page, its blackness and position demanding attention. The rest of the setting aptly represents Dorothy’s world, as her elders have grown “as gray as” their surroundings. Dorothy’s blond-tinted hair, is a subtle contrast, representing how her golden laughter can’t be repressed.
The cyclone sweeps up Dorothy’s house in the next illustration. This closer view gains texture and a sense of speed so that you can almost hear the wailing wind.
The second chapter begins with two spot illustrations that register Dorothy’s surprise. In the first, her over-the-top shocked expression represents her bumpy landing.
The second spot illustration, just across the page, shows another form of surprise–Dorothy’s amazement as she views a new and whimsical world. Again Santore uses contrast, this time convincing viewers of the emotional impact. Dorothy’s monochromatic dress, symbolizing her Kansas world, highlights the small peek he shows of the greenness she beholds.
These spot illustrations tease readers into page turning. This dramatic pause is well-rewarded with a startlingly lush double-page spread revealing the enchantment of the smiling sparkly Witch of the North, three rounded Munchkins and the splendid silver slippers in the lower left corner. All appear in a fertile land– rich with fruit, dainty flowers and an abundance of creatures. The fantastical beings are both caricature-like and alive with emotions. Their appearance in the magical setting is a brilliant combination of illustrative realism and imaginary seeing.
Dorothy (and readers) are off along a sparkling yellow brick road en route to Emerald City and further adventures.
On every page Santore enchants with glorious renditions of familiar characters–from the stranded scarecrow to the threatening winged-monkeys as well as others lesser-knowns. The settings come alive with brilliant-coloring and amazing architectural elements. Santore’s art feels frameable, each page yielding delights that will thrill parents who can share this highly visual, simply-told story with their young children.