That grinning Jack-o-Lantern staring out of the cover gave me some serious Return to Oz trepidation about embarking on this sequel, but I am happy to report that that 1985 horror film has almost nothing to do with this book (or, near as I can discover, the remainder of the Oz series).
Jack Pumpkinhead is in it, however, a being created by orphan Tip as a way to frighten his (literal) witch of a guardian, Mombi, and then brought to life by some magical powder she happened to have on hand. Jack and Tip flee from Mombi — the fragile Jack riding upon the Wooden Sawhorse, also newly animated, as Tip has now stolen the Powder of Life — and find themselves at the Emerald City just as it is invaded by a furious legion of girls headed by the ferocious General Jinjur, and they and the deposed Scarecrow head to the Land of the Winkies — once ruled over by the Wicked Witch of the West, now in the care of the Tin Woodman — for sanctuary. Plotting to wrest back Scarecrow’s throne, they learn that Mombi is in league with Jinjur, and Glinda shows up to help out, as she is annoyed that Mombi has dared to perform magic in this magical land, when only Glinda is supposed to, for some reason.
Along the way they also meet the pun-spouting Woggle-Bug, who is quite my favourite character.
I won’t mention the denouement, since it is quite the surprise and I really hope everyone will read this book some day, but it is certainly an interesting development, and somewhat ahead of its time for, well, its time, I would have thought.
Likewise ahead of its time is the Army of Revolt led by General Jinjur, not only for its suffrage message — though there is some man-hating here that might be considered as going too far; also, Jinjur wanted to eat Jack Pumpkinhead’s pumpkin head, since he wasn’t really a person, and that’s just racist — but also for its clear summation of the invisible work at home that is still, overwhelmingly, the purview of women:
‘”… since you went away the women have been running things to suit themselves. I’m glad you have decided to come back and restore order, for doing housework and minding the children is wearing out the strength of every man in the Emerald City.”
“Hm!” said the Scarecrow, thoughtfully. ‘If it is such hard work as you say, how did the women manage it so easily?”
“I really do not know,” replied the man, with a deep sigh. “Perhaps the women are made of cast-iron.”’
In all, another top-notch adventure through Oz, even without the presence of Dorothy, still at home in Kansas, we can assume. But there are twelve more of these books to go, I have no doubt she’ll show up again. Because that is how series work.
I just hope Mr H. M. Woggle-Bug, T. E. (Professor Highly Magnified Woggle-Bug, Thoroughly Educated) does, as well.
TBR DAY 114: The Marvelous Land of Oz (Oz #2) by L. Frank Baum
GENRE: Children’s Fiction, Classics
TIME ON THE TBR: 3 years.
PURCHASED FROM: Amazon.