The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum and Eric Shanower. Art by Skottie Young. Colors by Jean-Francois Beaulieu.
I’ve been trying to do a better job of actually reading the kids’ graphic novels I hear are good. Shanower and Young have been adapting multiple books from the original Oz series into graphic novels, which are getting very good reviews. My son and I had both already read the original Wizard of Oz, but I checked this out for us to read together. Both author and artist are clearly trying to follow the original book here, rather than the movie, which is a fine thing. Shanower’s dialog keeps the feeling of Baum’s, while the graphic format makes that old-fashioned language approachable. When I compared the original text side-by-side to the graphic novel, I found that while not every word makes it over, everything that’s in the graphic novel is from the original book, sometimes with straight narration made into dialogue to fit the format better. Young’s pictures are light sketches high on charm, with Beaulieu filling them with beautiful gradations of water color. They are friendly and charming without feeling anachronistically modern. I’d be hard-pressed to say that you should read this (or indeed any graphic novel version of an existing book) instead of the original. That being said, it’s a delightful treatment, and one far closer to the original than the movie version.
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