Classic Literature | 12 August 2015The Yellow Brick Road Less Traveled Share article facebook twitter google pinterest This reimagined classic is built on the premise that in the age of information and globalization, children’s literature should aspire to reach new heights of imaginative story-telling, rather than using flat characters and predictable outcomes to provide a morally or culturally narrow subtext. Written by L. Frank Baum and playfully illustrated by Olimpia Zagnoli, Classics Reimagined, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz puts a fresh spin on a familiar story. Follow the silver slippers (that’s right, silver) of this modern-day Dorothy as she and her pup Toto journey through the whimsy of Oz in hopes of finding their way back home — overcoming obstacles and meeting a host of curious characters along the way. With minimal, block-style illustrations and language that invites visualization, this retelling is sure to capture the attention of readers and listeners alike. © Olimpia Zagnoli, www.olimpiazagnoli.com. Dorothy lived in the midst of the great Kansas prairies, with Uncle Henry, who was a farmer, and Aunt Em, who was the farmer’s wife. Their house was small, for the lumber to build it had to be carried by wagon many miles. There were four walls, a floor and a roof, which made one room; and this room contained a rusty looking cookstove, a cupboard for the dishes, a table, three or four chairs, and the beds. Uncle Henry and Aunt Em had a big bed in one corner, and Dorothy a little bed in another corner. There was no garret at all, and no cellar—except a small hole dug in the ground, called a cyclone cellar, where the family could go in case one of those great whirlwinds arose, mighty enough to crush any building in its path. It was reached by a trap door in the middle of the floor, from which a ladder led down into the small, dark hole. When Dorothy stood in the doorway and looked around, she could see nothing but the great gray prairie on every side. Not a tree nor a house broke the broad sweep of flat country that reached to the edge of the sky in all directions. The sun had baked the plowed land into a gray mass, with little cracks running through it. Even the grass was not green, for the sun had burned the tops of the long blades until they were the same gray color to be seen everywhere. Once the house had been painted, but the sun blistered the paint and the rains washed it away, and now the house was as dull and gray as everything else. When Aunt Em came there to live she was a young, pretty wife. The sun and wind had changed her, too. They had taken the sparkle from her eyes and left them a sober gray; they had taken the red from her cheeks and lips, and they were gray also. She was thin and gaunt, and never smiled now. When Dorothy, who was an orphan, first came to her, Aunt Em had been so startled by the child’s laughter that she would scream and press her hand upon her heart whenever Dorothy’s merry voice reached her ears; and she still looked at the little girl with wonder that she could find anything to laugh at. Uncle Henry never laughed. He worked hard from morning till night and did not know what joy was. He was gray also, from his long beard to his rough boots, and he looked stern and solemn, and rarely spoke. It was Toto that made Dorothy laugh, and saved her from growing as gray as her other surroundings. Toto was not gray; he was a little black dog, with long silky hair and small black eyes that twinkled merrily on either side of his funny, wee nose. Toto played all day long, and Dorothy played with him, and loved him dearly. © Olimpia Zagnoli, www.olimpiazagnoli.com. After The Cyclone Drops Dorothy’s Aunt And Uncle’s House Onto A Witch In A Foreign Land Dorothy took off her old leather shoes and tried on the silver ones, which fitted her as well as if they had been made for her. Finally she picked up her basket. “Come along, Toto,” she said. “We will go to the Emerald City and ask the Great Oz how to get back to Kansas again.” She closed the door, locked it, and put the key carefully in the pocket of her dress. And so, with Toto trotting along soberly behind her, she started on her journey. There were several roads near by, but it did not take her long to find the one paved with yellow bricks. Within a short time she was walking briskly toward the Emerald City, her silver shoes tinkling merrily on the hard, yellow road-bed. The sun shone bright and the birds sang sweetly, and Dorothy did not feel nearly so bad as you might think a little girl would who had been suddenly whisked away from her own country and set down in the midst of a strange land. When Dorothy, Toto, Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman Meet the Cowardly Lion There came from the forest a terrible roar, and the next moment a great Lion bounded into the road. With one blow of his paw he sent the Scarecrow spinning over and over to the edge of the road, and then he struck at the Tin Woodman with his sharp claws. But, to the Lion’s surprise, he could make no impression on the tin, although the Woodman fell over in the road and lay still. Little Toto, now that he had an enemy to face, ran barking toward the Lion, and the great beast had opened his mouth to bite the dog, when Dorothy, fearing Toto would be killed, and heedless of danger, rushed forward and slapped the Lion upon his nose as hard as she could, while she cried out: “Don’t you dare to bite Toto! You ought to be ashamed of yourself, a big beast like you, to bite a poor little dog!” “I didn’t bite him,” said the Lion, as he rubbed his nose with his paw where Dorothy had hit it. “No, but you tried to,” she retorted. “You are nothing but a big coward.” “I know it,” said the Lion, hanging his head in shame. “I’ve always known it. But how can I help it?” “Have you brains?” asked the Scarecrow. “I suppose so. I’ve never looked to see,” replied the Lion. “I am going to the Great Oz to ask him to give me some,” remarked the Scarecrow, “for my head is stuffed with straw.” “And I am going to ask him to give me a heart,” said the Woodman. “And I am going to ask him to send Toto and me back to Kansas,” added Dorothy. “Do you think Oz could give me courage?” asked the Cowardly Lion. “Just as easily as he could give me brains,” said the Scarecrow. “Or give me a heart,” said the Tin Woodman. “Or send me back to Kansas,” said Dorothy. “Then, if you don’t mind, I’ll go with you,” said the Lion, “for my life is simply unbearable without a bit of courage.” “You will be very welcome,” answered Dorothy, “for you will help to keep away the other wild beasts. It seems to me they must be more cowardly than you are if they allow you to scare them so easily.” “They really are,” said the Lion, “but that doesn’t make me any braver, and as long as I know myself to be a coward I shall be unhappy.” So once more the little company set off upon the journey, the Lion walking with stately strides at Dorothy’s side. Toto did not approve this new comrade at first, for he could not forget how nearly he had been crushed between the Lion’s great jaws. But after a time he became more at ease, and presently Toto and the Cowardly Lion had grown to be good friends. © Olimpia Zagnoli, www.olimpiazagnoli.com. When Dorothy and her Friends Reach The Emerald City of Oz Even with eyes protected by green spectacles, Dorothy and her friends were at first dazzled by the brilliancy of the wonderful City. The streets were lined with beautiful houses all built of green marble and studded everywhere with sparkling emeralds. They walked over a pavement of the same green marble, and where the blocks were joined together were rows of emeralds, set closely, and glittering in the brightness of the sun. The window panes were of green glass; even the sky above the City had a green tint, and the rays of the sun were green. There were many people—men, women, and children—walking about, and these were all dressed in green clothes and had greenish skins. They looked at Dorothy and her strangely assorted company with wondering eyes, and the children all ran away and hid behind their mothers when they saw the Lion; but no one spoke to them. Many shops stood in the street, and Dorothy saw that everything in them was green. Green candy and green pop corn were offered for sale, as well as green shoes, green hats, and green clothes of all sorts. At one place a man was selling green lemonade, and when the children bought it Dorothy could see that they paid for it with green pennies. There seemed to be no horses nor animals of any kind; the men carried things around in little green carts, which they pushed before them. Everyone seemed happy and contented and prosperous. The Guardian of the Gates led them through the streets until they came to a big building, exactly in the middle of the City, which was the Palace of Oz, the Great Wizard. There was a soldier before the door, dressed in a green uniform and wearing a long green beard. “Here are strangers,” said the Guardian of the Gates to him, “and they demand to see the Great Oz.” “Step inside,” answered the soldier, “and I will carry your message to him.” So they passed through the Palace Gates and were led into a big room with a green carpet and lovely green furniture set with emeralds. The soldier made them all wipe their feet upon a green mat before entering this room, and when they were seated he said politely: “Please make yourselves comfortable while I go to the door of the Throne Room and tell Oz you are here.” … When it was her turn to see the Great Oz, Dorothy opened a little door, walked boldly through and found herself in a wonderful place. It was a big, round room with a high arched roof, and the walls and ceiling and floor were covered with large emeralds set closely together. In the center of the roof was a great light, as bright as the sun, which made the emeralds sparkle in a wonderful manner. But what interested Dorothy most was the big throne of green marble that stood in the middle of the room. It was shaped like a chair and sparkled with gems, as did everything else. In the center of the chair was an enormous Head, without a body to support it or any arms or legs whatever. There was no hair upon this head, but it had eyes and a nose and mouth, and was much bigger than the head of the biggest giant. As Dorothy gazed upon this in wonder and fear, the eyes turned slowly and looked at her sharply and steadily. Then the mouth moved, and Dorothy heard a voice say: “I am Oz, the Great and Terrible. Who are you, and why do you seek me?” It was not such an awful voice as she had expected to come from the big Head; so she took courage and answered: “I am Dorothy, the Small and Meek. I have come to you for help.” © Olimpia Zagnoli, www.olimpiazagnoli.com. The Classics Reimagined series is a library of stunning collector’s editions of classic novels illustrated by contemporary artists from around the world. Each artist offers his or her own unique, visual interpretation of the most well-loved, widely read, and avidly collected literature from renowned authors. From Grimm’s Fairy Tales to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and from Edgar Allen Poe to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, art lovers and book collectors alike will not be able to resist owning the whole collection.Enjoy Frank L. Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as you’ve never seen it before! Olimpia Zagnoli‘s modern, illustrative interpretation of this classic tale follows Dorothy on her infamous journey to Oz. The quirky, colorful images breathe new life into this classic novel, making it a collectible for Oz lovers every where. Classics Reimagined, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Illustrator: Olimpia Zagnoli Author: L. Frank Baum Format: Hardcover, 312 Pages ISBN: 9781592538997 Publisher: Rockport Publishers Series: Classics Reimagined Buy from an Online Retailer In North America: In The UK: Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.