November 8, 2007

Journey Back to the Marvelous Land of Oz

The children spoke and L. Frank Baum listened. His acclaimed book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz soon had its first of many sequels. Titled The Marvelous Land of Oz, we rejoin old friends and meet many bizarre new ones. Whilst the movie version of the first Oz story was a loose adaptation, the second story didn't fare so well in its transition to film. Elements of it were borrowed to create the animated Journey Back to Oz in 1974. No Dorothy this time around, a boy named Tippetarius (Tip for short) is the lead character.

Meet the main characters of the book:
Tip- A young man who tirelessly does chores for Old Mombi.
Old Mombi- Tip's guardian who buys many spells and potions in an effort to become a witch.
Jack Pumpkinhead- a scarecrow of sorts Tip built from tree parts, old clothes, and topped off with a pumpkin. Dimwitted, but occasionally has a good idea. Constantly worries about his head spoiling.
Sawhorse- an abandoned wooden sawhorse that Tip brings to life. Ridden by Jack Pumpkinhead so his shoddy limbs won't wear out.
General Jinjur- a young girl who has built an army of women who want to storm the Emerald City and rule the Land of Oz themselves.
His Majesty The Scarecrow- After being appointed King of Oz at the end of the first story, The Scarecrow finds his rule challenged by Jinjur's troops.
Nick Chopper The Tin Woodman- Now with a new name, the Emperor of Winkie Country rejoins his old friend Scarecrow to help him regain control of Oz.
Mr. Highly Magnified Woggle-Bug, Thoroughly Educated (H.M. Woggle-Bug, T.E.)- A large insect with great intellect, he helps come up with good ideas to aid Tip, Jack, Scarecrow, and Tin Woodman in their bid to reclaim the Emerald City.
The Gump- Brought back to life by the Powder of Life, the disembodied head of an elk-like creature is attached to a pair of sofas and given large leaves for wings. He is the main mode of transport for the group.
Ozma- The missing and true descendant for the rulership of Oz. In order to restore order to the land, Tip's party must locate her.

The story begins in the north section of Oz known as Gillikin Country. A young man named Tip makes a break for freedom from his cruel guardian Mombi. He brings along his creation Jack Pumpkinhead, who was brought to life by the Powder of Life, which is magic he stole from Mombi. Along the way, he also uses the powder on an abadoned sawhorse to act as Jack's steed. When Tip learns that an army wishes to seize control of the Emerald City and the whole Land of Oz in the process, he and Jack head to the city to warn its king, the Scarecrow. With the danger imminent, the king escapes with his new friends to join up with The Tin Woodman to lend a hand in restoring order. They also team with a large and genius Woggle-Bug who offers his great knowledge. The party decides the wise and powerful Good Witch of the South Glinda may have a plan to liberate the Emerald City from its captors. Glinda declares the only one who can rightfully rule Oz is the daughter of the King who was in power before The Wizard blew into town. So the mission is on to find the missing princess and finally restore Oz to its rightful ruler.

Much like the first story, the adventure takes place all over Oz, and there's no shortage of curiosities to behold. My favorite character in this installment is Jack Pumpkinhead for his amusing banter with the Scarecrow. As Jack is constantly worried about his fruit head being destroyed, Scarecrow always looks on the bright side by suggesting that he could make a good pie or his seeds could be used to produce more pumpkins. None of these things reassure Jack in the least. The story concludes with a twist that would make M. Night Shyamalan envious. So with an Oz-wide journey, cool new characters, light humor, and a clever ending, I highly recommend this story as I did for the previous installment.

In another example of "signs of the times", this story contains yet another word that meant one thing in the early 1900s, but has taken on a completely new meaning in the late 2000's. And it was a difference I wasn't even aware of. Apparently... ejaculate was another word for "shouting in an excited manner". Here's a sentence I could get away with a century ago but wouldn't dare say aloud now: "I may be a bit queer, but I'm gay about it! And I'll ejaculate it to anyone who has a problem with that!"

And... um... that's just the way it is.

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