The Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum, Michel Laporte, Olivier Latyk and Vanessa Mieville (translator)

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The Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum, Michel Laporte, Olivier Latyk and Vanessa Mieville (translator)

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Buy The Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum, Michel Laporte, Olivier Latyk and Vanessa Mieville (translator) at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: A decent retelling of the novel for the young audience, but the book's merits tend towards the visual.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 64 Date: October 2017
Publisher: words & pictures
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781910277386

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Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Hollywood any more. And no, indeed we are not. We are in the realm of L Frank Baum, and not the cinema version of this fantasy quest story. So those slippers are silver and not ruby, the companions do not get given solid things that may imply they have achieved what they seek, and the flying monkeys played backwards do not work out to be singing Pink Floyd records, or whatever the urban myth was. Otherwise, we're pretty much on the same, assured, solid ground, with the greyness of Kansas (in a scene that seemed to foretell of the Dust Bowl decades later) being swapped for the quartet of queer, questing characters, the yellow bricked road and everything else you would want of a young reader adaptation of the novel.

This is a translation of a 2016 French volume doing the same thing, and if the credits didn't alert you to that the untranslated compass rose in the artwork will. That's not the only hiccup, however, as a surprising amount of printing errors force me to mention the lack of proof-reading. The read is a good one despite that, with seventeen chapters not allowing any one to outstay its welcome, and while the balance is a little off at times, allowing for some pages to appear far too wordy, it's a decent, brisk telling. You'll certainly get the gist of all the drama and fantasy of the story, as peculiar as it may be.

What is not peculiar, rather a wonderfully welcome variant on pretty much any book you care to mention, is the artwork. For one, it's in two-tone, cyan and yellow only, until its artful way with shapes and layering allows one to meet the other and you have any of the shades in between. It means Toto is not black, and the slippers not silver (and they couldn't be ruby if they'd tried) and Kansas not grey, but the reduced palette really makes the book stand out, and also helps prove this title is its own entity – nowhere does it begin to consider what MGM made from similar material.

You also get five laser-cut pages, where you get a thicker black card stock with multiple areas of it punched through, that break up the action with some wonderful artistry. It's a completely unnecessary touch – how costly is it to have a sixth die-cut sheet attached to an ultra-thick front cover, itself with a large window cut out of it, and sheathed in a safety envelope of clear plastic? It goes a great way to make the book really eye-catching, and as I say thoroughly distinctive. All of which makes the lack of care to the words, punctuation and proof-reading even more of a shame. Still, overlook that and you have a real visual feast, and even if you aren't the world's hugest fan of the story, you do get a brilliantly fresh look at it.

I must thank the publishers for my review copy.

A similar age range can also revisit the story by seeing it all through the eyes of the dog, in Toto: The Dog-Gone Amazing Story of The Wizard of Oz by Michael Morpurgo and Emma Chichester Clark.

Buy The Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum, Michel Laporte, Olivier Latyk and Vanessa Mieville (translator) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum, Michel Laporte, Olivier Latyk and Vanessa Mieville (translator) at Amazon.co.uk


Buy The Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum, Michel Laporte, Olivier Latyk and Vanessa Mieville (translator) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum, Michel Laporte, Olivier Latyk and Vanessa Mieville (translator) at Amazon.com.

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