Friday, February 10, 2012

Guest Post: Brie Spangler and The Wizard of Oz

I'm sending a huge welcome to Brie Spangler, author and illustrator of adorable picture books. She's giving us a super unique look into The Wizard of Oz, via the art of Lisbeth Zwerger.

An illustrator’s review of The Wizard of Oz
Written by L. Frank Baum and illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger
Published by North-South Books, 1996

            We catch the first few frames on TV and we’re hooked. There’s Judy Garland, clutching Toto and surrounded by Munchkins, wearing those iconic ruby red slippers and preparing to follow the yellow brick road. It’s as ingrained in our pop culture as Coca-Cola and as beloved as baseball and if we’ve seen it once, we’ve seen it a hundred times— The Wizard of Oz.
            With all the visual imagery we’ve memorized since birth, the amazing Viennese watercolorist, Lisbeth Zwerger, does the amazing and brings new life to a world previously set in stone and canonized. Rich fields of color allow for whimsy and bring a jewel-like quality to the story. Tinman, Glinda, and Scarecrow look nothing like how we’ve been taught, but we love them all the same. The book even comes with green tinted glasses to put on once you reach the Emerald City, nice touch!
            Having bought a copy a few years ago, it’s one of my favorite things to read aloud to kids because they’re rapt with wonder at the words and fall easily into the illustrations. The freshness of these fanciful paintings makes the hundred plus year old title burst anew. Zwerger is a master at her craft but what makes her interpretation such a joy is the absolute whimsy for the world of Oz and all its inhabitants. And even while she imagines an enchanting world, she remains faithful to the text. Dorothy’s slippers are their original silver!
            It’s a piece of cake to heap praise on Zwerger, she’s one of the all-time greats, but what she brings to The Wizard of Oz is special. There’s a reverence she embeds that this is not just a book but a keepsake, a time to build memories. Every nightstand should be graced with a copy from these two masters, Baum and Zwerger.
Thanks to Brie for stopping by! Though she's written/illustrated a variety of books for children, my favorite is still Peg Leg Peke. My husband even loves it!

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