The Wonderful Wizard of Oz went over well with my five-year-old son, so he chose this one to read together at bedtime. This one is a different experience, because there are fewer MGM-tinged preconceptions. It's just as easy to read aloud, and, if you're squeamish, the body count is considerably lower than the first time around.
This story isn't as timeless and self-contained as the first book, but that doesn't work against it. It's exactly what you want: an exploration of Oz after Dorothy left. In fact, there are no characters from the real world at all (with the possible exception of the Jackdaws).
There are some interesting themes to examine here. There are explorations of gender, politics, and gender politics. Not to mention the questions it raises over the nature of life and the responsibility of creating life.
Baum cheated a bit by including the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman as main characters to advertise the real-world stage play. But the new characters are just as imaginative: the marvelous Jack Pumpkinhead, the snarky Sawhorse, the sesquipedalian Woggle Bug, and the patched-together Gump. The audience surrogate, Tip, is a nice follow-up to Dorothy. Being a native of Oz, his goals are very different, but he's just as assertive and loyal.
I think the villains are a bit more interesting this time around. Mombi does more interesting things with her magic than the Wicked Witch, and General Jinjur is just fabulous. There are some who would take offense at the dated portrayal of a rebellious woman, but stick around to the end and L. Frank Baum might win you back over. Baum probably didn't intend to write a book about gender identity, but it makes the book surprisingly relevant today.
For the best experience, find a copy with the John R. Neill illustrations. The images are very different than those of W. W. Denslow in the Wizard of Oz, but they are full of energy and imagination. I'm glad Neill became the archetypal illustrator for Baum's world.
The Land of Oz is a delightful sequel to a beloved book. If you or someone you love is longing for another journey to Oz, this will fit the bill.
- Paperback: 90 pages
- Publisher: Independently Published (6 June 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1072464721
- ISBN-13: 978-1072464723
- Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 0.5 x 27.9 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 286 g
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