May 15 Birthday: L. Frank Baum

L. Frank Baum, writer, artist
May 15, 1857 – May 6, 1919
THE ROAD TO OZ: TWISTS, TURNS, BUMPS, AND THUMPS IN THE LIFE OF L. FRANK BAUM (Random House, 2008) by Kathleen Krull. Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes.
From Publishers Weekly:

Krull (Hillary Rodham Clinton) turns to the frequently failing but resilient man behind the 1900 classic, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Her very readable account begins with Lyman Frank Baum’s privileged

childhood in a wealthy family and continues through his many attempted

careers, such as chicken breeder, newspaper editor and window dresser.

“Bad luck, bad planning, too much ambition, too much risk… (‘Will he

ever amount to anything?’ some people whispered).” The chatty narrative

paints a well-rounded, occasionally irreverent portrait of Baum as a

plucky, earnest entrepreneur and doting family man who loved telling

stories to his four sons. Numerous parenthetical asides interject

well-researched tidbits, such as jokes Baum recycled in his Aberdeen

(Dakota Territory) newspaper. Hawke’s (Library Lion) jaunty

acrylics fit Baum’s optimistic spirit, while vignettes drawn in green

highlight some of Baum’s inspirations, e.g., drawings of the Tin Man

accompany a passage about how the writer once made an all-metal dummy

for a hardware store window. A detailed author’s note rounds out this

cheeky yet informative biography.