Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Road to Oz: Twists, Turns, Bumps, and Triumphs in the Life of L. Frank Baum by Kathleen Krull (Picture Book Biographies from A to Z - Letter B)

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

by Kathleen Krull
illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
2008. Alfred A. Knopf


L. Frank Baum (1856-1919) is the author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and its sequels.


Like Kathleen Krull's other picture book biographies, this one is a comprehensive portrait of the subject's life, beginning in childhood. Using the symbol of a road, which is so important in the Oz books, Krull traces the unlikely path Baum took to success. She describes his childhood in a well-to-do family, his time acting on stage, his economic hardships after traveling West, and the bedtime stories he told his children which inspired the world of Oz.

About the Illustrations

The pictures by Kevin Hawkes include many details to evoke the time in which Baum lived, as well as spot drawings in green ink that are much like the illustrations in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Each illustration tells a story of its own, and adds emotional depth to anecdotes told within the text. I especially like the spread where Baum is shown on the floor playing with his sons.

Author's Note

Krull provides a "Storyteller's Note" which further contextualizes Baum's life, mentions The Wizard of Oz film, and also describes how Baum died. Also included in the back matter are sources for more information and a bibliography of the Oz books in chronological order.

Additional Comments

I am a Kathleen Krull fan - her Jim Henson and Theodor Geisel biographies were two of my go-to read-alouds for school-age kids when I worked in the library. This book, like the others, does a nice job of telling about the person, not just about his achievements. She also makes it interesting for kids by making sure to connect the narrative to things they would know about or be able to understand based on their own experiences.

1 comment :

  1. All of the Kathleen Krull biographies you mention (L. Frank Baum, Jim Henson, and Theodor Geisel) are people who have an impact on children, so I bet they're fun to teach kids about. My husband and I are building our children's library (we're hoping to welcome a Baby Barichello into our family within the next year or two), and these bios sound like great additions. Especially Theodor Geisel, since we want to do a Dr. Seuss-themed nursery.


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