Welcome to my blog, featuring various pieces from my collection of Oz books, artwork and memorabilia!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Leonard Weisgard

When I was a kid I belonged to the Junior Deluxe Edition book club. One of the titles I received through the club was this version of The Wizard of Oz, with illustrations by Leonard Weisgard. It's a pretty common book that turns up regularly on eBay, and I always liked it. The illustrations are simple black and white drawings, but there is a lovely color frontispiece of the main characters in the poppy field.

Weisgard was a prolific illustrator, as well as an author, working from the 1930s up to around 1989. He worked with a number of authors, particularly Margaret Wise Brown, and won a Caldecott medal in 1947. Since his death in 2000, his family has placed his archives with the Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. For more information on Weisgard, visit his family's webpage at leonardweisgard.com.

The illustrations are copyrighted 1955, and I've always wondered whether there was an earlier, different printing of this book with these illustrations. I do have another copy of the book, this time published by Bobbs-Merrill, the longtime publishers of The Wizard of Oz. This copy has the same illustrations but a different, plainer binding and uses the Bobbs-Merrill imprint on spine and title page.

The colorful dust jacket used for both versions of the book is credited to Dick Umnitz, and manages to incorporate quite a few details from the story into one image. The stamped cover of the Junior Deluxe edition is by an uncredited artist, but they were clearly influenced by the original W. W. Denslow illustrations.


David Maxine said...

Hi Bill -

I feel like you answer you're own question. Isn't the Bobbs Merrill "plainer binding" version you describe infact the original 1955 edition with the Weissgard illustrations that to some extent pre-dates the book-club edition?

Also, my book Junior Edition Book Club edition has the same dust jacket. It is stamped book club edition on the front flap though.

Bill Campbell said...

That would make the most sense. For some reason, it just doesn't feel like a 1955 book, but I don't think I can explain what I mean by that! I'll go with that theory unless something else turns up.