Wizard of Oz MinaLima cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

It is easily the greatest and most influential American fantasy novel of all time, certainly the best of the 19th century creations, and after reading the original story, you may find it unlikely not to have influenced later British authors’ works like J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.  It is L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, first published in 1900 and now given the ultimate dose of classical style and color by the renowned designers behind the Harry Potter movies, Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima, the artists known as MinaLima.  Especially considering the extra care taken in the margin artwork and the incorporation of the color in Baum’s story with every page, this may be the best volume in the now eight-volumes of children’s books in the MinaLima library from HarperDesign books.  Take a look at a preview of twenty of those wonderful pages below.  Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, lavishly illustrated with interactive elements by MinaLima, was published this month, and is available now here at Amazon.

Baum was inspired by years living in rural South Dakota to create the story of Dorothy Gale living in the parched grey fields of turn-of-the-century Kansas and the man whose hot air balloon took him away from Omaha to this land called Oz.  For those who think they know the story thanks to the 1939 Oscar-winning cinema classic adapted by Victor Fleming, they’ll be only partly right.  The film follows the essential elements of a girl swept away from Kansas in a cyclone with her dog Toto, befriending a Scarecrow, a Tin Woodman, and a Cowardly Lion, as they head along the yellow brick road to the Emerald City where they hope to attain the one thing each seeks the most.  Dorothy’s swirling house crushes one witch of four witches, she inherits magical shoes, and a deceptive con man poses as a powerful wizard.  Added for the film is the parallel world where characters in Dorothy’s real world of Kansas appear in Oz–excepting only the wizard himself.  There is no vile woman seizing Toto and leaving on a bicycle.  The movie also trims a more epic narrative–the very kind Bilbo and the Dwarfs, and later Frodo and Samwise take in Tolkien’s much later tales, a journey with multiple barriers, races of people and creatures, and various tasks and challenges along the way–all reflecting the abilities of the participants and helping them to grow in a coming-of-age manner.

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The story itself of course has been in print for 121 years.  What makes this edition so appealing is the magical touch provided by MinaLima, beginning with the gilded hardcover, which immediately tells the holder this is a special book.  The vintage style end papers, the classic type font, and the aged paper are tied together with relevant colored art design treatments at the bottom numbering of each page.  Each chapter begins with a full-color picture and quotation, and includes the MinaLima library editions’ trademark interactive features.  These include pop-up book style images, sliding or hidden door images, a map, a metallic tin woodman, spooky trees reaching out toward the reader, the three-dimensional friends embarking on the yellow brick road, Dorothy using her magic slippers, and more.  The high point is a pair of pull-out, wearable eyeglasses to allow the reader to see everything in emerald, exactly like the glasses that are part of the story. 

MinaLima took advantage of the color used in the story to illustrate each new group of peoples.  Color was used so well in the film to distinguish grey Kansas from vibrant Oz, but across the land of Oz color plays a different role, and not only for the Emerald City.  Like Tolkien’s later published novels of the Hobbits, this story has multiple codas or denouements–Dorothy’s journey to Oz takes weeks or months and her route home after confronting the witch may be an even longer journey.  The whole package–Baum’s story and MinaLima’s artwork–is ideal for a reading journey for kids or adults that is spread over several days or weeks, chapter by chapter.  It’s epic in scope as any fantasy adventure you’ve ever read.

Take a look at these beautiful preview pages:

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MinaLima is the design studio combining the imaginations of two artists that gained notoriety for creating the entire ten-year run of graphic art and graphic props for the Harry Potter film series (discussed in the books The Archive of Magic, The Art of Harry Potter, and The Art of Harry Potter pocket edition).  Remember all those newspapers with moving images?  British design artist Miraphora Mina and Brazilian design artist Eduardo Lima created even more for the franchise as Rowling’s wizarding world continues in the first two movies in the Fantastic Beasts series.  The studio has also provided imagery for The Golden Compass, Sweeney Todd, and The Imitation Game.  As with MinaLima’s illustrated edition of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel The Secret Garden (reviewed here) and The Little Mermaid and Other Fairy Tales (reviewed here), MinaLima again offers up its artistry and design to make a new definitive version of a classic–a storybook that could be a new favorite for the next generation of readers.

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A truly enchanting, magical edition of L. Frank Baum’s beloved classic The Wonderful Wizard of Oz from MinaLima and Harper Design, this will be the kind of keepsake storybook perfect for young to middle grade girls and boys and adult fans of fantasy and adventure.  Just published this month, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is available now here at Amazon. 

MinaLima library

And don’t miss the other books in the MinaLima library: Peter Pan, The Jungle Book, The Beauty and the Beast, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Secret Garden, Pinocchio, and The Little Mermaid and Other Fairy Tales.