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The Marvelous Land of Oz: 07/01/14

cover art

The Marvelous Land of Oz by L. Frank Baum was first published in 1904 and is the second of the Oz books. Somewhere along the line the reprints have lost the Marvelous from the title. As the title implies, this one is basically world building and expansion — fleshing out Oz for Dorothy's triumphant (and eventual return in Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz.

Tip has lived with the witch Mombie for as long as he can remember. In his time there acting more like her slave than her son, he has learned a thing or two about magic. He decides to put what he's learned to use through the creation of some companions — a pumpkin head named Jack, and a sawhorse. Together they set off to escape the witch and seek asylum with the Scarecrow, the current king of Oz.

Meanwhile, the women of the Emerald City have grown tired of the way the Scarecrow and his all male set of advisors have been running things. Under the leadership of Jinjur, they revolt and take over the city, forcing the men in power to flee the city.

I don't personally know what Baum's views were on either politics or gender but this book does a lot turn of the last century exploration of gender roles. It was written and published during the push for women's suffrage.

The Marvelous Land of Oz is one of my favorite of the Oz books. I love it for it's exploration of gender. I love it for Tip's adventure and the relationship he has with his creations. I love it for the Gump's discussion of the meaning of life. Most of all I love how it sets the stage for the remainder of the Oz books that Baum wrote himself before handing over the series to new writers.

I'm taking one star off, though, for the less than stellar performance of the audio book reader. Listening to the book just wasn't as enjoyable as reading it (and seeing the wonderful illustrations).

Four stars

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