The Road to Oz: Twists, Turns, Bumps, and Triumphsin the Life of L. Frank Baum

Kathleen Krull, Author, Kevin Hawkes, Illustrator , illus. by Kevin Hawkes. Knopf $17.99 (0p) ISBN 978-0-375-83216-1

Krull (Hillary Rodham Clinton ) turns to the frequently failing but resilient man behind the 1900 classic, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz . Her very readable account begins with Lyman Frank Baum’s privileged childhood in a wealthy family and continues through his many attempted careers, such as chicken breeder, newspaper editor and window dresser. “Bad luck, bad planning, too much ambition, too much risk... ('Will he ever amount to anything?’ some people whispered).” The chatty narrative paints a well-rounded, occasionally irreverent portrait of Baum as a plucky, earnest entrepreneur and doting family man who loved telling stories to his four sons. Numerous parenthetical asides interject well-researched tidbits, such as jokes Baum recycled in his Aberdeen (Dakota Territory) newspaper. Hawke’s (Library Lion ) jaunty acrylics fit Baum’s optimistic spirit, while vignettes drawn in green highlight some of Baum’s inspirations, e.g., drawings of the Tin Man accompany a passage about how the writer once made an all-metal dummy for a hardware store window. A detailed author’s note rounds out this cheeky yet informative biography. Ages 8–12. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/25/2008
Release date: 09/01/2008
Library Binding - 48 pages - 978-0-375-93216-8
Open Ebook - 33 pages - 978-0-385-75429-3
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