Ann Soforth, queen of Oogaboo, has grown tired of her tiny remote principality and its "stupid and unenterprising" people. She musters an army, consisting of sixteen officers and a private, and sets out to conquer the Land of Oz. Glinda the Good, surveying her Great Book of Records, learns of Ann's plans. She works a magic spell, so that Ann and her army emerge from their mountain passes into a mysterious, foggy landscape where they encounter a Rak.
Betsy Bobbin, an American girl, is washed up on a strange shore after a storm; she is accompanied by her faithful mule Hank. Betsy and Hank find themselves in the Rose Kingdom where sapient talking greenhouse roses inform them that strangers are not allowed. As the Royal Gardener is about to pass sentence on the two, the Shaggy Man crashes through the greenhouse roof. He charms the Gardener into benignity with his Love Magnet. The roses, who have no hearts and are thus immune to the Magnet, demand the travelers leave; they do so, taking with them the newly-plucked Rose Princess Ozga, a cousin of Ozma.
The Shaggy Man is headed for the Nome Kingdom to search for his missing brother; Ozma has assisted him with transport via her Magic Belt. The group meets Polychrome the rainbow's daughter, and then rescues Tik-Tok from the well where the Nome King had dumped him. The assembled party next encounters Ann and her army. The belligerent Ann orders the "vagabonds" bound — but Jo Files, the army's only private, refuses to bind girls. Ann changes her plans when she learns of the wealth and potential plunder of the Nomes' domain. Jo Files resigns his post, and Ann accepts Tik-Tok as the new private in her force.
There the party encounters the Private Citizen, Tititi-Hoochoo, the Great Jinjin. This immortal vows to punish Ruggedo for using the Tube, and sends his unwelcome visitors back the way they came, with his Instrument of Vengeance, Quox the dragon. After various complications, Quox quells the Nome King with the eggs he has brought with him. Ruggedo is deprived of magic; his steward Kaliko takes over. The Shaggy Man's brother is found, and rescued from a curse of ugliness placed on him by Ruggedo; the antidote is a kiss from Polychrome.
Back on the surface, Polychrome returns to her rainbow, and Ozma magically returns Ann and her army to Oogaboo. (Ozga goes with Jo Files, because they "have become such good friends.") Ozma also brings Tik-Tok home, though the Shaggy Man will return only when Ozma agrees to welcome Betsy, Hank, and Shaggy's brother too.
While they are in Tititi-Hoochoo's fairyland, the travelers from Oz must wait a day for the Great Jinjin to decide on his course of action. The visitors are accommodated by some of the fairy kings and queens of the Private Citizen's court. Betsy Bobbin and Polychrome spend the night in the palace of the Queen of Light, where they meet her attendants, Daylight, Sunlight, Moonlight, Starlight, Firelight, and Electra, and enjoy an idyllic and informative interlude (which provides Baum with an opportunity for lushly lyrical writing).
- Queen Ann Soforth and the people of Oogaboo
- Betsy Bobbin and Hank
- The Royal Gardener of the Rose Kingdom
- The Shaggy Man
- Ruggedo, Kaliko, the Long-Eared Hearer, and Pang
- Tititi-Hoochoo, the Queen of Light, Quox, and Tubekins
- The Shaggy Man's Brother
- Ozma, the Wizard, and Dorothy Gale
- The Sawhorse, the Cowardly Lion, and the Hungry Tiger
- Ann's Army
- Out of Oogaboo
- Magic Mystifies the Marchers
- Betsy Braves the Bellows
- The Roses Repulse the Refugees
- Shaggy Seeks His Stray Brother
- Polychrome's Pitiful Plight
- Tik-Tok Tackles a Tough Task
- Ruggedo's Rage is Rash and Reckless
- A Terrible Tumble Through a Tube
- The Famous Fellowship of Fairies
- The Lovely Lady of Light
- The Jinjin's Just Judgment
- The Long-Eared Hearer Learns by Listening
- The Dragon Defies Danger
- The Naughty Nome
- A Tragic Transformation
- A Clever Conquest
- King Kaliko
- Quox Quietly Quits
- A Bashful Brother
- Kindly Kisses
- Ruggedo Reforms
- Dorothy is Delighted
- The Land of Love
Baum was a theater enthusiast, and wrote plays throughout his career; he adapted some of his Oz books into stage productions. For Tik-Tok he reversed his usual process: he wrote the stage show first — The Tik-Tok Man of Oz (1913) was a heavily adapted version of Ozma of Oz — and then produced a novelization of it as his eighth Oz book. This theatrical genesis shows in one particular: Tik-Tok of Oz is the first book in the series to feature an adult romance, the love between Ozga and Jo Files.
Tik-Tok of Oz shows many commonalities and borrowings from earlier Oz books. Betsy and Hank arrive in the Rose Kingdom just as Dorothy arrives in Ev with Billina at the start of Ozma of Oz. Ozga is a person who grows from a plant, like the Mangaboos in Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz.
The face of Betsy Bobbin on the cover of Tik-Tok of Oz is that of Eleanor Boardman, a young model and later a silent-film actress. She was from Philadelphia, as was illustrator Neill, and was featured in an advertising campaign as the "Kodak girl" in 1913.
Baum's seventh Oz book, The Patchwork Girl of Oz, had re-started and re-invigorated the Oz series in 1913, selling 17,000 copies in its first year in print. Tik-Tok of Oz was a disappointment in comparison, selling only 14,000 copies in the same time frame. The book's derivativeness from earlier Oz books has been seen by many readers and critics as a key weakness. (The Tik-Tok first edition contained only twelve color plates, instead of the earlier books' sixteen.)
Modern-day Oz authors sometimes find inspiration in Tik-Tok of Oz. Both David Hulan, in his The Glass Cat of Oz, and Karyl Carlson and Eric Gjovaag, in Queen Ann in Oz, draw upon this book for inspiration.
|L. Frank Baum's original Oz books|