Surprisingly Funny Book

The Marvelous Land of Oz - L. Frank Baum, David McKee

Like many people my age, I actually remember when The Wizard of Oz movie being shown on network television every year was an event. I mean, we didn’t have VCRs (Let alone Netflix) back in the dark ages, so if you wanted to get a glimpse of Oz, you had to plan your social schedule around being at home in front of your television at the appropriate time, and for many years I always did. But that movie is all I knew about Oz.

I really hate to admit that I never took the time when I was growing up to try to find any other Oz stories. It wasn’t that I didn’t love Oz, because I did, but it wasn’t a priority likeStar Wars, Star Trek, and Battlestar Galactica. And when I finally did discover there were other books in the Oz series, I wasn’t too terribly interested in walking the yellow brick road anymore. I was too mature. Too cool. Too … self absorbed.

Flash forward about thirty-five years.

My kids have watched The Wizard of Oz several times in their lives, then my youngest son gets really hyped (at least for a little while) about the soon-to-be-released The Great and Powerful Oz movie. So, deciding to ride the interest, I find this book and give it a go as a bedtime story.

The tale takes place a short time after Wizard, focusing on the adventures of a young boy named Tip. But things don’t start out marvelous. Instead a reader finds Tip leading a rather uneventful and arduous life on a farm, but soon he escapes from his unhappy existence and takes to the road determined to find his destiny.

Quickly, things get interesting: Tip growing close to his companion Jack Pumpkinhead and meeting some new people like the Wooden Sawhorse, the Highly Magnified Woggle-Bug, and the amazing Gump. Old friends like the Scarecrow, Tinman, and others even show up. And, naturally, we have new enemies to thwart like the evil witch Mombi and General Jinjur and her army of rebellious young women.

Never having read any of the Oz books, I have to say I was surprised by how humorous this story was. I won’t go so far as to say it was laugh out loud funny, but it had lots and lots of puns as well as humorous lines. That in itself made my kids and I enjoy reading the book together, causing it to be a fine bedtime story, but it also really helped to fan the flames of excitement for more Oz just before the release of The Great and Powerful Oz movie.

Even with that being said, the favorite parts of this read were the sections where the Tin Man and Scarecrow are the stars: the scenes of their bumbling around bringing back many good memories of watching the classic movie as a child. So if you enjoyed the classic movie, give this a try; it is worth the read.