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Abby McGanney NolanKrull keeps the story upbeat (Baum's bankruptcy and death are saved for an afterword), and Kevin Hawkes's appealing artwork captures the man's gentle nature and exuberant creativity.
—The Washington Post
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With the same verve she brought to her biography of Dr. Seuss, Kathleen Krull’s wry prose couples with Kevin Hawke’s exuberant paintings and drawings to create a book not to be missed by Oz fans of all ages.
From the Hardcover edition.
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.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Fans of The Wizard of Oz will find plenty of enchantment in this thoughtful, brightly illustrated narrative. From his childhood at his parents' estate, with its "rosebushes in glimmering-jewel colors," to his various careers as journalist, playwright, chicken expert, window dresser (including his creative display of hardware fashioned into a tin man), store owner, newspaper editor, and family storyteller, Krull magically interweaves the origins of Baum's characters and themes that would appear in his "modern American fairy tales." The "Oz" books were his only true success, but they did not result in a fairy-tale ending for the Baum family. With sympathy for her subject, Krull tactfully notes Baum's lack of aptitude for business affairs and his eventual declaration of bankruptcy. Hawkes's merry paintings of the author and his characters invoke the magic of Oz within the great author's real-world setting. The Road to Oz will provide students with an inspiring introduction to Baum's life.-Jayne Damron, Farmington Community Library, MI