Wizard of Oz Read-Along
Book 2 – The Marvelous Land of Oz

February 27, 2017 Books, Read-Alongs 7

Welcome back to Oz!

Book 2 – The Marvelous Land of Oz

Young Tip runs away from his guardian, the witch Mombi, taking with him Jack Pumpkinhead and the wooden Saw-Horse, and flees to the Emerald City where he learns the incredible secret of his past.

My Thoughts:

Uh… what just happened? That was a wild ride!

OK, I admit that I was a little annoyed by Tip at first. I know Mombi is supposed to be a Bad Guy, but for some reason I found her much more interesting and slightly more sympathetic than the Wicked Witch of the West in the previous book.

I also have to say that I was a little confused by the whole coup thing with the Scarecrow… but that scene between him and Jack Pumpkinhead and their “translator” was adorably funny. Cheesy, sure, but cute. I like a little cheese every once in a while.

Actually, several scenes were a little confusing. Or maybe not so much “confusing” as “WTF just happened” or “was there a point to this”? Don’t get me wrong, this was a good fun romp of a story, but… are ALL the Oz books going to be as random/manic as this?

I quite enjoyed the addition of all the wacky new characters/creatures, like The Gump in particular — I hope it shows up again in future books. And the Woggle-Bug’s terrible puns were DELIGHTFUL.

I do wonder if Baum was trying to get political with all the Girl Power / Evil Feminazi stuff. The book seemed to be simultaneously poking fun at feminists while praising other leading ladies — even so far as turning a boy into a girl. I’ve tried not to read too much into all this, though — after all, the book was written while the 20th century still had the shiny on it and the 19th Amendment was still nearly 2 decades off.

So… tell me what you thought of this one!

Questions:
  • Did you particularly like any of the new characters/creatures? Or were you hoping for more old favorites from the first book?
  • Do you ever feel a little twinge of sympathy or unwarranted fondness for “bad guy” characters?
  • What did you think of all the gender politics stuff in this book? Do you think Baum was making an eloquent point about the feminism of his day, or is that maybe reading too much into a wacky little kids’ book?

Are you reading this series along with me? If you have reviewed or discussed this book online, please feel free to post a link to that in the comments. (But you don’t have to be an “official” participant to discuss this book in the comments if you feel so inclined.)

Please note: Even though I try to avoid major spoilers in my blog post, I can’t promise that the comments will remain spoiler-free too — so read at your own risk!

Want to participate in this read-along? Sign up here.

7 Responses to “Wizard of Oz Read-Along
Book 2 – The Marvelous Land of Oz

  1. Warren

    I think a lot of people find this a little trippy πŸ™‚
    I found a lot of the characters have annoying negative traits in Book 2 : the sawhorse is described as vicious, Tip eats greedily, the Scarecrow bullies Jack somewhat, and Jack himself, who started as my favourite character, becomes annoyingly cowardly about every scenario that is even hinted at (not the unconscious bravery of the Lion, who I missed more than Dorothy)
    Interesting that Baum did a bit of retcon of his original story, particularly The Wizard having actual magic (or was he only a fake in the movie?) and his meanness in disposing of Ozma.
    I found the interpreter scene cute when it started but then I became annoyed with Jellia Jamb, so I didnt feel much sympathy for her when she reappeared as Mombi’s pawn. I liked Mombi but she caved in too easily.
    **SPOLIER** I didn’t see Tip’s fate coming, but from what I vaguely remember, I think Ozma’s personality in later books is nothing like Tip, suggesting either a change due to the seriousness of ruling, or that girls are more sensible than boys, which tends to lessen any anti feminist leanings which could have been laid too heavily at Baum’s door.
    I also enjoyed some of the word play throughout the book, and Jack’s fondness for Tip, his “dear father” was quite touching.

    • Louise

      You know, I didn’t think much about all the negative character traits, but you’re totally right — and they can get a little annoying at some points.

      Re: Spoiler:
      Tip’s personality does seem to drastically change immediately after his/her transformation back into Ozma. It’s quite jarring.

  2. Al @ mounttoberead

    Questions:

    I actually rather liked Tip as we got to know him more. The others, I was more, “meh” about. In my review, I resorted to the word ridiculous to describe much of the book.

    Re: sympathy for the “baddies,” it will often depend on the story, but it’s rare for me to feel sympathy. Or perhaps I should say, I can feel for what life has handed them, but I hate when people use the bad stuff in their lives to excuse their actions.

    Re: Gender politics, I had a difficult time figuring out what was going on here as well. At one point, everyone was saying how the women needed to get back to their places, and then the Scarecrow made a comment to one of the men that if the work was so hard, how come the women were able to do it. In the end I think I decided it was satire, though I’m still not so certain.

    Link to my review: http://mounttoberead.blogspot.com/2017/02/the-marvelous-land-of-oz-by-l-frank-baum.html

    • Louise

      Haha, ‘ridiculous’ is the perfect descriptor for this book, both in good and not-so-good ways.

      Perhaps you’re right about all the gender politics stuff being satire. Maybe we’re just too far removed from the time period to really “get” it like contemporary readers would have?

  3. Jean @ Howling Frog

    I should have signed up for this; I remember the characters so well! I always liked the Woggle-Bug. And my very favorite character was General Jinjur, because I had no idea that Baum was poking fun at her. I think he was playing both sides–on the whole, he was kind of a feminist, but he’s definitely satirizing suffragettes here.

    • Louise

      You’re probably right. I was developing a little soft spot for Gen. J until I realized that she was meant to be some kind of scapegoat/strawman. Oh well!

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