What is the Story of the Wizard of Oz? In Kirsten Anderson’s book it starts at the end of the history (or the most recent piece of history) and works its way back to a boy who would write a beloved classic. We see the life and times of a man named Lyman Frank Baum (or more commonly known as L. Frank Baum) and how over a hundred-years one book (and eventually its sequels) is still in our sights. Each chapter does flow from the previous and into the next, however, it also they are usually containing one subject or historical piece of information. The highlights of Baum’s childhood to his love/hate relationship for The Wizard of Oz to even the theatrical versions are covered.
There is information that might not be well know. Such as what happened to Baum’s movie versions, the play versions, and his other works. The tone of the country at the time is also mentioned, especially when it comes to the fact many thought the Wizard of Oz movies (pre-the Judy Garland version) where just “children’s movies” and they felt robbed about paying money to see it. Even the years after Baum’s death and the author who took up the mantle is covered. As well as the ups, downs, and final success of the Garland movie and the theater and movie versions of The Wiz. The start of the book covers a little about that Broadway classic, Wicked and ends on that note.
The text itself had a few bumps in the flow for me. I was not always sure where we were in the timeline. And a few of the images felt like they were “off” for the text they accompanied. But that is just from this adult reader brain. Kids (ages (strong six, perhaps to read to) seven to ten, young eleven and twelve) will enjoy this introduction to the world of Oz the novel and beyond. However, if you are looking for a comprehensive collection of all the history, this is not what you are looking for. It is what you are looking for it you need to just touch the points.
And a quick note about Robert Squier’s illustrations. While occasionally I was not “digging them” I always appreciated the realistic nature of them. You can also see where the artist had historic images to refer to. When Baum was a child, those images tend to be less “fleshed out” or “realistic” and when we get as far as even the 1930s, we know what Garland looks like, or Diana Ros in The Wiz making them more “plumped out” and you know who they are.