The Marvelous Land of Oz is the first of L. Frank Baum’s fourteen sequels to his much more famous novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Each of the sequels, which were published form 1904 to 1920, are illustrated by John R. Neill and are now in the public domain. My 11 year old daughter and I listened to a delightful audio version of The Marvelous Land of Oz which was read by Tara Sands. I purchased this version for free at Amazon and added Tara Sands’ wonderful narration for $2.99 with the Amazon/Audible Whispersync deal.
In The Marvelous Land of Oz, an orphan boy named Tip is being raised by an evil witch named Mombi. One day Tip tries to frighten Mombi by making a pumpkin-headed stick man and placing it on the road where Mombi will pass on her way home. Instead of being scared, Mombi animates the pumpkin-headed man with the magical Powder of Life which she has just illegally procured. When she threatens to turn Tip into a statue, Tip and the pumpkin-headed man (now named Jack) flee with the Powder of Life. They animate a wooden sawhorse and set off for the Emerald City which has been run by the Scarecrow since Dorothy and the Wizard left.
When they get to the Emerald City, a coup attempt is in progress. The Scarecrow’s throne is being usurped by a nasty little girl named Jinjur and her gang of girls wielding knitting needles. Tip and Jack want to help the Scarecrow get his throne back, so they all set out to get help from the Tinman, Glinda the Good Witch, and others (but not Dorothy — she’s still in Kansas). Can they get the Scarecrow’s throne back before the pumpkin head spoils?
The Marvelous Land of Oz is a creative and fun story in its own right, and it can definitely stand alone, but fans of Baum’s original OZ story are sure to relish revisiting the land of Oz and its strange but familiar characters. Beside those we already know, readers will meet a few new endearing heroes who I hope we’ll see again in the remaining sequels. My favorite was the Highly Magnified Bug who insists that making puns is a sign of genius.
The story is not all silly laughs — there are actually some thoughtful bits, too. For example, the characters wonder whether Scarecrow is justified in fighting for his throne when it didn’t legally belong to him in the first place. It had been stolen by the Wizard.
Both my daughter and I thoroughly enjoyed The Marvelous Land of Oz and plan to read the next book, Ozma of Oz.