Review of ‘The Marvelous Land of Oz’ by L Frank Baum

This ‘marvelous’ sequel to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was first published in 1904. Although it references previous events and includes a few of the same characters (the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, the Queen of the Field Mice and Glinda the Good), it’s a new adventure.

The story begins with Tip, a resourceful boy who is a servant to an old witch named Mombi. He creates a figure, Jack Pumpkinhead, to scare her. She tests out a magic powder to make Jack alive and at the same time plans to turn Tip into a statue. That’s when he escapes with Jack. They become drawn into the war between the Scarecrow and General Jinjur’s army of girl soldiers for control of the Emerald City, collecting unusual friends on the way. My favourite character is Jinjur because she’s sassy and can be found casually wearing the King’s crown while eating caramels. There are other unique characters introduced, such as the Saw-Horse, the Gump’s head and the Woggle-Bug. There is some interesting commentary on gender in this book, including the huge twist at the end of the story, which I won’t spoil in case you want to read it. The text is often philosophical in a way which appeals to adults and ensures its status as a classic (see also: the Alice books and the Winnie-the-Pooh books).

The original illustrations by John R Neill are clever and charming. It’s amusing how Jack Pumpkinhead is grinning vacantly even in times of peril, because of course he can’t change his expression.

I read the first edition, published by Reilly & Britton, Chicago, from Project Gutenberg.

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