Inspiring Young Readers

posted on 03 Dec 2015

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum illustrated by Olimpia Zagnoli

There's nothing quite as invigorating as a book that sets out to break down the expectations of the reader. Baum's Wizard of Oz is a book so well known - and a film so well loved - that the images we associate with it are printed on our collective consciousness. The Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, The Straw Man, the Wicked Witch of the North, the Wizard and, of course, Dorothy with her pet dog Toto - we know them all and we have a pretty good idea what they look like. Or do we?


In a daring re-imagining, Olimpia Zagnoli has completely deconstructed the story in illustrative terms. Reducing ideas and physicality to colourful blocks of abstraction, Zagnoli challenges us to look again at the text. Solid blocks of black and green, swirling repetative patterns and a sudden burst of gold dance across the pages on which our favourite characters are reduced to collections of outlines, blocks and triangles.


Rockport, the publishers, have done a really stunning job on this lovely item that is a must for any lover of the original. Even the page block edges are coloured gold and printed with rune-like diamonds, triangles, hoops and squares and the paper has a satisfying weight and semi-gloss finish. At £16.99, it's not expensive and I think it's the first in what is planned as a series of classics that will have new illustration. Alice in Wonderland and Pride and Prejudice have already hit the shops and I personally can't wait for the rest.


Terry Potter

December 2015