Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ojo of Oz

Thompson didn't really use many of Baum's human male characters. She of course had the Wizard, and Cap'n Bill got a passing mention. So, it comes as a bit of a surprise that her book for 1933 would focus on Ojo, the protagonist of Baum's The Patchwork Girl of Oz.

Ojo and Unc Nunkie are still living in their home just outside the Emerald City. Gypsies encamp outside and lure Ojo out, despite Unc Nunkie's warnings to stay away. Ojo is kidnapped, and quickly becomes friends with Snufferbox the dancing bear, and Realbad, the leader of the gypsies. Ojo is wanted by Mooj of Moojer Mountain in return for five thousand bags of sapphires. Finally, Ojo uses a silver whistle to summon a giant silver bird to blow away the other gypsies, and then himself and his friends to safety. And then, a series of misadventures, the most memorable being Realbad saving a kingdom of crystallized people from a frost dragon, only to refuse his reward so as not to be crystallized himself.

Meanwhile, ever notice how Thompson's alternating plots don't really stick to the same timeline? Ah, well... Meanwhile, Unc Nunkie tells Ozma about Ojo's disappearance, and Dorothy, Scraps, and the Cowardly Lion decide to look for him. They decide to use the Magic Picture and a Wishing Pill to give them a head start, when Scraps speaks too quickly and wishes them "in that grumpy forest this very minute!" A few misadventures, and they wind up meeting Mooj on Moojer Mountain.

Ozma, the Wizard, Unc Nunkie, and the Scarecrow go to Glinda's to see if the Book of Records has any information about Ojo, but it's being cryptic again...

MEANWHILE, back to the real story! After another series of adventures, Ojo and Snuffer become separated from Realbad in a land of unicorns. Deciding that they could easily find their way to the Emerald City from the top of a mountain, they get a lift from X. Pando, the Elevator Man, who will carry people to the top of the mountain, while his feet remain on the ground. (Thompson isn't clear if he flies up, and it's actually his shoes on the ground his pant legs stretching, or if his legs were elastic.) However, it turns out this is Moojer Mountain, and Mooj catches Ojo and "rewards" Snuffer with the promised sapphires, but Snuffer would rather have his friend back.

Realbad arrives on a unicorn and goes to face Mooj, who reveals that Realbad is Ojo's father, and Realbad himself is King of Seebania, but as he has broken his word, his wife and child will now be made to disappear. As Mooj hurries to Seebania, Ozma, the Wizard, Unc Nunkie, and the Scarecrow arrive on the scene. Dorothy's rescue party has been turned into clocks (they can all talk), so all hurry to Seebania, by means of the Wizard's flying pills, the enchanted clocks being carried.

In Seebania's capital of Shamsbad, Mooj is turned into a sparrow by Ozma, who then restores Dorothy and her friends. Realbad, or Rea Alla Bad, reveals how Mooj took over Seebania and attempted to kill Rea, who ran off with the gypsies. Unc Nunkie, speaking in full sentences, reveals how he took Ojo to raise him in solitude and safety. Rea's wife Isomere is restored to him, and they all go to celebrate in the old bandits' cave, before Rea and Isomere, along with Ojo and Unc Nunkie (who Thompson gives the sadly ordinary name "Stephen"), take the throne of Seebania.

Mooj's final punishment is one of the most outlandish in all the Oz books: he is transformed into a drop of water in the Nonestic Ocean. This is because he is too dangerous to leave in a conscious form, but it does seem a bit extreme. If, for any reason, Ozma undid this, could she retrieve that one drop of water? Why not transform him into an inanimate object? Or wipe his memory with the Water of Oblivion? Or even put him into an enchanted sleep or trance?

Anyways, is Ojo a good Oz book? Yeah, it's fun to read, but it did suffer from Thompson revealing royalty in a previously non-royal character, as we know already she was wont to do. Dorothy's rescue party, as fun as traveling with Scraps is, really adds little to the story.

Although Thompson didn't really tightly weave her stories together, it is when her characters are adventuring that she is at her strongest. And though she did get repetitive, for some reason, her stories were fun to read. And this book did have a bit of adventure!

So, go ahead, read Ojo of Oz for yourself!


Marcus said...

This post brings to mind something that folks have considered time and again... whether an Oz book's title should reflect a character's nativity to Oz or not...

For example, we have Ozma OF Oz, Dorothy and the Wizard IN Oz, The Patchwork Girl OF Oz, The Cowardly Lion OF Oz, Speedy IN Oz, The Yellow Knight OF Oz, Handy Mandy IN Oz... but then we have Tik-Tok OF Oz (when he was a native of Ev, wasn't he?), Kabumpo IN Oz, Ojo IN Oz...

There doesn't seem to be a rhyme or reason. Perhaps it's a topic that's best left ignored!

Nathan said...

If we just look at the Baum books, "in" and "of" seem to be used pretty consistently. It's once you get into Thompson that they aren't, and this might not have been her fault. I think I remember reading that she didn't usually come up with the titles herself.