Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cover Girl

What is it they say? Never judge a book by its cover?

I don't know about you, but more than once I have swooned over a book for its looks - Lisbeth Zwerger's illustrated L. Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz is definitely one of them.

The ethereal quality of Zwerger's illustration always catches my eye. However, many of her early works, in which she focuses on the mastery of line, employ limited color. She tended to work in a muted palette, sharpening her skill for gesture and expression. These illustrations are beautiful too, don't get me wrong, but in her version of The Wizard of Oz there is a vibrancy and vitality that comes from an expanded palette and the perfect marriage of line and color.

I read that Zwerger was relatively unfamiliar with Baum's tale and I think that makes her artistic representation of the story truly unique. She creates a brand of quirky and unexpected individuals - a tomboy Dorothy, an actual lion, a rotund Scarecrow, and a somewhat familiar lanky Tin Man.

One look at this book's cover and you know it is a different take on Baum's world.

Image courtesy of www.everypicture.com

A listless Dorothy rests in the arms of Scarecrow and the Tin Man as they tentatively navigate the sea of seemingly six-foot poppies. The distinct stem and blossom shadows create further depth and confusion. Muted colors reflecting in the Tin Man are a wonderful detail.
Something new is happening here- a re-imagining of an old favorite- and the cover is just the beginning.

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