on January 9, 2002
Although he was never to enjoy the success he had with his first Oz book, Baum sure tried hard with this one (the second in the series). I like this far better than the first, more famous work. It starts off, if I remember from reading it 30 years ago, with Tip living in a cottage deep in a forest in Oz. The witch who keeps him is set on turning him into stone, so Tip must escape. This sets up a whole series of wonderful adventures and interesting characters. The Pumpkinhead character is my favorite. If only someone like Tim Burton would get a hold of this and turn it into a film, then maybe the whole Baum Oz series would get as much recognition as say the Potter series is now getting.
These works are available in the public domain. You can get all the Oz books at Project G, including illustrated versions of most.
BUT. It is all in the formatting. This review is for the Eltanin Publishing editions, which as of this writing has done the second and third books of the series (Marvelous Land and Ozma). They have done a masterful job in these two efforts.
It is all about the illustrations. I prefer my kids to read books on our iPad. But, for books with illustrations, I have them read the paper versions instead. I haven't forgotten the illustrations, even so many years later, of the books I read as a child. And so I want my children to have the same experience.
So the test for whether a children's ebook makes the cut for me is in the quality of the pictures. For books like the Oz series, books that are in the public domain, this means how well a job did the editor do formatting the text and scanning the illustrations. Results vary widely. Always "download the sample" if you are buying them here at Amazon.
Another thing to consider: did the editor include ALL the illustrations. Perhaps some were omitted, on a rush job. These "editors" are taking things from the public domain, formatting them, and selling them for a couple bucks. Fine. But are they doing a good job? Are they being thorough?
I am very picky about this. I want my kids to have ALL the pictures, every one. Otherwise we will just read the paper book.
But for the Oz books, there is one additional wildcard. Even some very fine versions on Project G still omit a particular kind of illustration: the "first-word-in-the-chapter" illustration. Baum's original books (and these are what are in the public domain) began most chapters with an illustration, and the first letter of the first sentence was integrated into the illustration.
Almost without exception, ebook editors have been omitting these illustrations when reproducing the Oz series. Even very nicely done versions (check out the Ozma of Oz illustrated version on Project G for an example), without these beginning chapter illustrations, are going to be missing a lot of artwork.
The Eltanin versions get it right. Text formatting is perfect (one expects nothing less on this front). The scans of the illustrations are sharp and clear (this can vary widely for other publishers, always download the sample!). And ALL illustrations are included.
I do hope they continue the series for the other 12 books of the series. I would be interested in any of their other children's book projects, if they continue on at this high standard.
on April 10, 2002
We have all grown up with the Wizard of Oz movie, book one, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is basically the same story as the movie with some slight differences. Marvelous Land of Oz, the second book of the series is the one that will reel you in and have you wanting to read more. I just finished reading this one, a chapter each night, to my preschool age son. He loved it, especially the surprise ending which I won't spoil for you. Jack Pumpkinhead, the Woggle Bug and a mean witch named Mombi are all new characters, even more colorful than some of those from book one. I loved it, Jonah and I are really looking forward to starting the Ozma of Oz after we finish Black Beauty which we will begin tonight. I hope you will fall in love with the Oz series like we have. It will provide you with a great opportunity for some quality time reading with your children or grandchildren. I think that I look forward to reading time as much as he does.
on August 24, 2000
I suppose some would consider it sacrilege and those who only know "The Wizard of Oz" the movie wouldn't believe it, but "The Land of Oz," the second book in L. Frank Baum's 14-book series, is clearly superior to "The Wizard of Oz." No Dorothy, no Toto, no Lion: no problem. This book is sensationally entertaining. Whereas the first book seemed more interested in presenting marvelous characters and creatures scene by quick scene (which it does well) than in delighting us with what they say and do, "The Land of Oz" is a tour de force that will keep a smile permanently affixed to your face (like Jack Pumpkinhead!). Baum's style is enormously improved; he supplies more detail, more endearing dialog, more fun, more edge, more sides to everything. The characters and creatures are marvelous: the aforermentioned Jack Pumpkinhead (my favorite), the Highly Magnified Woggle-Bug, the gump (two sofas, an antlered animal head, palm leaves and broom brought to life as a flying "thing"), the Saw Horse, the army of girls who take over the Emerald City and make servants of the men (in 1904!), Mombi the witch (far more interesting than the Wicked Witch of the West), and on and on, including more vivid portrayals of the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman. Overall, considerably better than the first book, which is good in its own right, and simply one of my favorite books, one which can be loved by adults (as I am) or children. If you read only one Oz book (OK, you have to read the first one, but if you read only two) include "The Land of Oz".
I am most familiar with the fantasy world of Oz through the classic musical film starring Judy Garland. "The Marvelous Land of Oz," by L. Frank Baum, could be read as a sequel to the film. Three of the film's most important characters -- the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and good witch Glinda -- are important characters in this book (although Dorothy and the Cowardly Lion do not appear).
Baum creates a marvelous cast of new characters to interact with the three familiar ones mentioned above. Central to this story is Tip, a young boy whose unhappy life with a mean witch will probably remind some readers of Harry Potter's less-than-ideal home life with the Dursleys. Tip's escape from the clutches of the witch Mombi is the start of a fantastic adventure that leads him to the fabulous Emerald City, to an encounter with an all-female army led by a bold conqueress, and to relationships with the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and a host of equally fantastic beings.
The new characters are really great, but probably my favorite is Jack Pumpkinhead, an artificially-constructed, pumpkin-headed being brought to life by magic. Jack has a childlike innocence that I found quite endearing. Also memorable is the ornery but courageous Saw-Horse, another magical being.
There is a curious undercurrent of subversive gender politics to the book; although the main party of adventurers are male, the most powerful characters in the book are ultimately its female characters (both heroic and villainous). And one jaw-dropping plot twist (which I will not ruin by revealing!) furthers this theme.
This book is quite simply a wonderfully delightful story, well-told by Baum and superbly complemented by John R. Neill's whimsical illustrations. And despite the fact that it's a fantasy, I felt that the book has some relevant real world themes, most notably the ideas of respecting diversity and valuing "unusual" folks. And the friendship between the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman is especially heartwarming. "The Marvelous Land of Oz" is a great classic for both adults and young people.
on November 5, 2001
The title of my book is "The Marvelous Land of Oz." It is by
L. Frank Baum, who is well known for writing the Oz books. I think that anyone, who is six years old, or older, would like the book. Even people who are 100 years old would laugh out loud at this hilarious book.
The story takes place in Oz, a magical land that has strange and funny people. This book is a sequel to "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." Many of the characters and parts of the story are very funny.
The Emerald City of Oz is a beautiful place until General Jinjur invades it with her army. The scarecrow, who is the king of Oz, and his friends, try to regain the throne only to find that there is another real heir to the throne!
Tip is the book's main character. While many of the characters are very unusual, Tip looks like a human and is from the country of Gillikins. He gets in bad trouble with Mombi, who is evil and he runs away to the Emerald City. He becomes friends with the Scarecrow and tries to help him return as king.
The genre is adventure. Here is an example:
Tip thought this strange army bore no weapons whatsoever, but in this he was wrong. For each girl had stuck through the knot of her hair two long glittering knitting needles.
I give this book 5 stars because it was so good I could not put it down, and I read all 119 pages in only two days.
on October 23, 2002
Baum wrote a dozen or so Oz books in the early 1900s. The movie was made from the first in the series. "The [Marvelous] Land of OZ" is the 2nd in the series, and possibly the best.
The short chapter from page 71-81 reaches a level of perfection attained only rarely in the history of literature, and is certainly equal to even the best passages of Mark Twain or James Thurber. I can't read that passage out loud to my kids without going into a fit of laughing myself to tears. I wish I could reprint it here.
You must try if you can to obtain the wonderful hardcover (or sometimes called 'library binding') edition that goes by the ISBN number of 0688054390. It is an amazingly faithful facsimile of the original 1904 edition complete with its beautiful color-illustrated endpapers and dozens of color plates and black and white illustrations so charmingly integrated with the text.
I snapped up a dozen and gave them away as birthday gifts for kids age 7 and up. I don't know if there are any left in print, and it's a good bet these will go up in value. Fine first edition OZ books command a pretty penny.
on November 11, 2002
Baum wrote 14 'Oz' books in the early 1900s. The movie was made from the first in the series. "The [Marvelous] Land of OZ" is the 2nd in the series, and possibly the best. The short chapter from page 71-81 reaches a level of perfection attained only rarely in the history of literature, and is equal to the best passages of Mark Twain or James Thurber. I can't read that passage out loud to my kids without going into a fit of laughing myself to tears. I wish I could reprint it here.
You must try if you can to obtain the wonderful hardcover (or sometimes called 'library binding') edition that goes by the ISBN number of 0688054390. It's a stunning and faithful facsimile of the original 1904 edition complete with its beautiful color-illustrated endpapers, original color plates, and black & white illustrations charmingly integrated with the text. I snapped up a dozen and gave them away as birthday gifts for kids age 7 and up. I don't know if there are any left in print, and it's a good bet these will go up in value. Fine first edition OZ books command a pretty penny.
on June 19, 2006
I seem to say that every Oz book is my favorite, and I suppose that speaks to the strength of the series. What I really enjoyed about this book as a child is that I had actually read "Ozma of Oz" (second in the series) before this one. So I had no idea that this story would tell us how Ozma arrived on the scene. What a fantastic surprise! Once again, Baum shows us why he is the master of fantasy, with this sequel. In many ways, I enjoy this book much more than "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz." The scene when the unforgettable character, Jack Pumpkinhead, enters the court of the Scarecrow will split your belly as if you were the straw man himself. It's a scene of intelligently-written laughs, and I always use this chapter of the book as a model with my creative writing students to demonstrate how to craft humor. Of course, as someone who enjoys puns (especially bad ones), I also relish every line of the Wogglebug in this book. With "The Marvelous Land of Oz", I think Baum established that he was a force to be reckoned with, and I highly recommend this book to all young readers.
on February 27, 2009
First of all, in reply to all the reviewers who complain about the "sexism", let me just point out that at the time this was a radically feminist book and LFB a radically feminist author. How many girl-protagonists at the time were as plucky as Dorothy, who smacks a lion in the nose? A male lion. It's hard to imagine Alice doing something like that. In fact LFB was already a serial gender-bender, see for instance JOHN DOUGH AND THE CHERUB and THE ENCHANTED ISLAND OF YEW. He's chock-full of forceful, powerful women from the Good Witch of the North to Glinda to Rosalie and Tormaline (SKY ISLAND) to Mrs. Yoop to Red Reera. Plus the most powerful characters--Ozma, Glinda, and the offstage but nigh-omnipotent fairy Lurline. Is there any good, ruling, MALE authority? One that really rules rather than being a figurehead for a female like King Bud of Noland and Prince Evardo the Fifteenth? OK, the King of Mo gets his own way. Rinkitink, too. (Maybe John Dough--he presumably yields to his Head Booleywag (Chick the Cherub) but we don't know that person's gender.) But these are comic rulers, not serious benevolent forces like Ozma and Glinda. Here's one: Tititi-Hoochoo. And Anko the Sea-Serpent. Gugu the Leopard. Well, if you can find a less sexist author between 1901 and 1919, please leave a comment.
With this book the excitement starts right away, continues until the end, and manages to remain interesting the whole time. When the characters aren't fighting, or flying, or tumbling, or trying out interesting new magic, they're exchanging some of the funniest dialogue in Baum, including punnery equaled only in EMERALD CITY (and parts of JOHN DOUGH). My complaints are trivial: Jack Pumpkinhead is too drippy for a rugged adventure like this; I never understood how Jinjur hooked up with Mombi toward the end; and you cannot count to seventeen by twos starting with one-half; you need to start with one.
One other thing: This was Jno R. Neill's first Oz book and one of his better ones. The illustration of Mombi casting her spell at the end is a masterpiece and so is the flock of jackdaws descending on the travellers.