Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Marvelous Land of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Although everyone I know knows the story of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and many people in my acquaintance have even read the original book, the numbers decrease significantly when I ask who's read any beyond the first book. With that in mind, I thought I'd take a day each month to highlight one of the Oz books, giving a small summary and some general information.

With that in mind, I bring you:

The Marvelous Land of Oz -- OR -- The Gender Wars of Oz, as I've come to think of Book 2.

Marvelous Land of Oz

Magical Characters Introduced:

Jack Pumpkinhead
The Gump

Other Introductions:

Ozma of Oz
Thoroughly Educated Wogglebug

Old Friends:

Tin Woodman
Glinda the Good


General Jinjur
Mombi the Witch

Magical Treasures of Oz:

Powder of Life
Wishing Pills

Baum's first trip back to Oz revolved around a little boy named Tip who is the servant of the witch, Mombi. She falls into the bad witch category, and Tip takes a chance to scare her with his invention, Jack Pumpkinhead, as she's returning home. She isn't fooled, however, and uses the stick-and-pumpkin man to test her newly acquired Powder of Life, bringing Jack to life. Then she tells Tip that she'll turn him into a marble statue as revenge for trying to scare her, which is just crossing a line. So Tip and Jack Pumpkinhead steal the Powder of Life, that night, and run away.

In the process they bring the Saw-Horse to life for Jack to ride, since his wooden joints are wearing out with the walking.

The companions then run into General Jinjur and her All Girl Army, who are all about Girl Power and are invading the Emerald City to take over from the Scarecrow, who has ruled there since the Wizard's departure.

The Girl Power Army takes over Oz with a minimum of trouble, in spite of Tip, Jack, and the Saw-Horse joining up with the Scarecrow. They escape by creating The Gump, a hodgepodge creature made from whatever the characters can gather and the Powder of Life. (You may remember the Gump if you saw the 1985 Return to Oz film, which borrowed heavily from books 2 and 3 of the Oz books, while still being its own (Disney) movie.)

The Gump flies the companions out to the middle of nowhere, where a run-in with some Jackdaws leaves them unable to travel any further. They discover that, along with the Powder of Life, they have some Wishing Pills, which they make use of to reach Glinda.

Glinda reveals that the rightful ruler of Oz is, in fact, a girl--have you guessed it yet? Ozma of Oz. Unfortunately nobody knows where Ozma is. Glinda only knows that Ozma was hidden by the Wizard some years ago, and has discovered that Mombi was probably involved.

So the whole crew head back to the Emerald City to confront Mombi. After some rigmarole, Mombi reveals that Ozma is in fact Tip, transformed as a baby.

Well, naturally, Tip is happy as a boy and doesn't want to be transformed back (gender issues, much?), but his companions convince him to accept his destiny and he allows Glinda to turn him back into Ozma, who leads her crew in a reconquering of the Emerald City, where she sets up housekeeping, as it were.

There you have it: Girls win. Booyah.

In spite of my somewhat slightly marginally sarcastic commentary, this is another fun romp, as imaginative and adventurous as Dorothy's first sojourn into Oz. I highly recommend HarperCollin's reproduction editions, with the original John Neill illustrations throughout. It's gorgeous and exact down to the typos.

1 comment:

  1. I have enoyed this book since my childhood. It has wonderful feel of innocence reflecting Frank L Baum's joyful world if OZ.

    grace (Dallas Cold Laser)