America’s favorite fairy tale, thought up in 1900 by the writer L. Frank Baum and illustrated by W. W. Denslow, has enjoyed countless treatments, ranging from M.G.M.’s 1939 movie starring a 17-year-old Judy Garland, complete with blue-and-white gingham and faithful cairn terrier, to the 2003 musical hit Wicked, based on Gregory Maguire’s 1995 novel of the same name. Indeed, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz—the best-selling American children’s book of the 20th century—was just the starting point for a years-long imagination game for Baum, whose own Oz spin-offs made way for the rest of the world’s.
Following that first book’s publication, Baum went on to write 13 more novels based on the people and places of Oz, including Ozma of Oz (the third book in the series, illustrated by John R. Neill and centered on Princess Ozma, of the Royal Court of Oz), which loosely inspired the 1913 musical The Tik-Tok Man of Oz (with book and lyrics by Baum). The musical, in turn, became the basis for Baum’s 1914 novel, Tik-Tok of Oz. You get the idea.
In The Art of Oz, illustrator Gabriel Gale offers his own take on the characters and creatures of the magical place. His fantastical renderings, often paired with Denslow’s and Neill’s inspiring originals, are split into chapters such as “The Witches & Their Armies,” “The Beasts,” and “The Curiosities.” By the time you reach “The Emerald City,” you’ll know you’re not in Kansas anymore. —Julia Vitale