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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.
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.
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.Read more ›
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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".
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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.Read more ›