‘Illustrate Your Own’ The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum – Review
By Sandra Callard
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum is one of a new series of books subtitled ‘Illustrate Your Own’. Lyman Frank Baum was born in New York in 1856 and died in 1919, never having seen the famous film adaptation of his story in 1939 and never to know how famous that story would subsequently become.
Many people have seen the screen adaptation of the story, but far fewer have read Baum’s original story. This new series of children’s books will change that, as it is obvious to see that Baum was a natural and scintillating teller of children’s stories.
Written and published well before 21st century restrictions on children’s literature, this book can tell how the wicked flying monkeys are all killed because they were bad, as are the two wicked witches, one of which is squashed by a house falling on her and the other one is melted by water. There is nothing extraneous in the text of the story and these various demises are accepted as perfectly normal in the circumstances and because they deserved it.
This book, however, has an additional attraction for children. On certain pages throughout the book there is a large open space left. A child, or even an adult, can draw or paint their depiction of the foregoing scene to sit alongside the narrative. The whole thing is very simple, just a story book with blank spaces. Surprisingly simple but beautifully effective. Above the blank space a tiny clue is written to the child as to what it could draw, and the rest is up to the artist.
All children love stories, and this one is superb, and they also like drawing, even if it is just scribbling. One point comes home here: This story is perhaps more suitable for children from maybe five-years old who can draw a little, or at least can stay within the perimeters of the drawing space. Any younger and their scribbles may obliterate the narrative of the story, which would be a shame because there is a possibility of the book becoming a family keepsake.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is a lovely children’s story. It is written very simply with no additional adjectives to confuse a child, and could easily stand in its own right with no illustrations. The added touch of personal art is an unexpected and creative addition to a famous story.
‘Illustrate Your Own’ The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum is published by The History Press, £10