Friday, July 30, 2010

A Refugee In Oz

With print-on-demand publishing, hundreds or thousands of books become available each year. As this is an economical way to get their work out there, many Oz fans now choose it to share their Oz tales. However, as with all print-on-demand titles, it's a mixed blessing. Amazing writers may finally share their talent in stories that large publishers would not find so marketable, but on the other hand, there are some stories that come out that would have been best left unpublished. Anyone can write enough text to fill a fair amount of pages and feel that earns them the title of "author," a title some feel should not be given so lightly.

And so we come to A Refugee In Oz by Kim McFarland. Although she illustrated the book, the cover is by Lar DeSouza, and shows comical characterizations of Dorothy, the Tin Woodman, and the Scarecrow being flown over what appears to be the Deadly Desert, lifted by a strange blue fellow in a white robe. I don't normally note the cover or illustrations, but I felt this was a great, appealing cover!

The story begins innocently enough in the Emerald City, with Dorothy and the Scarecrow going to visit the Tin Woodman on his "sort of" birthday, the anniversary of when he became completely tin.

Then, we shift to a hidden city in the Deadly Desert, protected by a glass globe. The people who live here are the Madou, a race of short, blue-skinned people. When their village is invaded from below by the Nomes, a young Madou named Kokoro flees across the Deadly Desert for help!

Well, we can guess who he runs into, and of course, Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and the Tin Woodman lend their aid, as well as sending for more help from the Emerald City.

And now, sadly, I can't say any more, because the story really starts to get even better! While the plight of the Madou could have been expanded into a whole book (and they are such an interesting race that I would not mind reading more about them), the author wraps their story long before the end with a shocking twist that no other Oz book I've read has dared to do. (Not even Gregory Maguire!) This twist leads the characters and us, as readers, to truly re-examine the characters and natures of two of the most beloved Oz characters. While some readers have realized this, it is even more powerful when they come to realize it themselves.

And now I'm speaking so vaguely that I'll lose you if I don't stop...

The author's illustrations, inspired by John R. Neill's classic depictions of Oz, are excellent! Kim uses fine lines and details to depict her Oz in a beautiful fashion, making it cheerful, scary, or sad. Well done!

As you can see, I've already called Kim McFarland an "author," so it's clear where I think her talents are. A well written, thought-provoking, and readable story with excellent illustrations, under an attractive cover to boot? What are you waiting for? Go get this book!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Beginner's Guide To The Winkie Convention!

Okay! It hasn't even been a week since I returned from Winkies, and I'm already getting excited for next year, planning on how to pay for it and all, and now fellow Oz bloggers (and former podcast guests) Doug Wall and Shawn Maldonado hope to attend as well. A number of other Oz fans have also expressed interest in going, so if it works out well for everyone, 2011 could be a well-attended year!
  1. Know where you're going! GoogleMaps is an invaluable aid, and keep an eye on street signs. Know how you're getting there. If you need some help, feel free to ask people going. Some might be able to offer a ride, or advice on how to get there. (I wound up using a combination of the two. I got a ride in, but I took public transportation out!)
  2. Talk! There are friendly people at Winkies, and all you have to do is just speak up sometimes. Don't interrupt, that's just rude, but don't be quiet all the time.
  3. Take your camera! I don't recall any photo shy Winkies...
  4. Take an extra shirt or something. Saturday morning, I wound up throwing on an extra shirt because, due to Asilomar being right on Monterey Bay, it is fed in with a constant cool breeze from the ocean, and sometimes, this can get cold, even in summer!
  5. Bring money! While all your meals are paid for in your registration, the dealers room and auction provide many a temptation! I was on a tight budget that I wound up going over anyways, even though I couldn't win any bids at the auction. (Aside from the $5 Dorothy pencil sharpener, but I didn't want it.)
  6. Shower! After your travel, you will need it. And your feet will love you for it, especially if you take a walk on the beach and sand gets in your shoes.
  7. Share a room! Yeah, it's cheaper than getting a single room, but the real perk is that you'll likely be paired with an experienced Winkie who can help familiarize you with the program and grounds.
  8. Subscribe! To this! Seriously, it did come in handy... And my report on the convention will be in the next issue, so this way, you can be sure to read it!
Any other points I missed will be added later or welcome in the comments!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Aw... Winkies is over!

Trying a single paragraph blog, I'm headed home now. I had a wonderful time at Winkies and met some amazing people. I'm going to write a full report when I get home, but it has been promised to the Unoffical Winkies Newsletter. I linked to them a few blogs back, so go sign up! (I will post something more here when I get home.)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Jared's Away . . . The Time Has Come!

Now that Jared Davis is gone, I can finally TAKE OVER THE ROYAL BLOG OF OZ!!


. . . Nah, not going to be doing that.

I'm glad Jared's finally going to the Winkies Convention. As long as I can remember, he's expressed interest in going there. Since it's much too far and expensive for me to go, he can have fun for the both of us.

Shall I Blog on, or save it to another day?

Uh, well . . . I love "the Wonderful Wizard of Oz".

I may have only read it a few times or once and quite a while ago, but it is such a simple story that I can remember it easily, in terms of what is said and what isn't said/written. But don't ask me what happens on which page.

Ever since this book (and the films based on it) I LOVED Tornadoes, roads paved with bricks, Lions, I think/believe Silver shoes are easier on the eye than ruby slippers, and of course I was "convinced" that all Witches (hopefully Wicked ones) could be beaten by melting them with water - of course over time I learned that is not so. Good thing too, otherwise that would get boring.
Still, at a young age, when I would see Mombi in the 1987 Cinar/Pan-Media and/or a pot with water or a potion . . . I couldn't help but think about splashing her.

It's funny how even in this REAL WORLD of ours I occasionally see a little girl or few with shoes that are silver, whether they're sneakers or another type of shoe.

I may like almost all the adaptations of Oz, and even have ideas of how to do it differently, but I remain an Oz Purist.
I like my Dorothy as a brown-haired youth, my Ozma as a lovely golden-haired girl just a little older than Dorothy, and Oz more Baum than MGM.

Heading for Winkies!

Bus tickets and itinerary, check.
Clothes, check.
Deodorant, shaver, shaving gel, q-tips, check.
Still camera... Taking some photos off of it just now, but check!
Video camera, check.
Batteries, check.
Phone, wallet, keys, mp3 player and chargers, check.
A number of Thompson Oz books to read on the trip, check.
"Royal Podcast of Oz" pin, check.
Stowaway 11th Doctor and K-9... What?
Books to get autographed by their authors who will be attending, check.
12 bottles of water for hydration on the trip there, check.
Sandwiches for trip, check.
Excitement, check!

Yep, headed to the Winkie Convention today. Going by Greyhound because I've not been any further west than Oklahoma, so I can take in some more of the United States... before I marry some British girl and move over there! (Maybe not...) Also, I couldn't afford air fare. (I'm going to try to save up for that next year.)

Using my phone, I can access my e-mail, Twitter, and some other sites, but don't expect me to blog while I'm there. I have asked Sam if he can write a blog while I'm away, but that's his choice. (Hey! Leave a comment with a blog suggestion for Sam!)

I'll be back on the 27th. See you all then!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Royal Podcast of Oz

In the latest installment of the podcast, Sam and I talk about new Oz movies rumored to be in development, and how we think Baum's world would best be presented onscreen. As always, you can listen to it and download it at the podcast site, or use the player below:

Most of this podcast was recorded back in April before Sam and I got new USB based headsets. Later, we recorded pick ups, as we realized we had forgotten to cover some subjects. Due to the releases of other podcasts, this episode was pushed back to July, and some of the information about rumored or upcoming Oz movies is dated (as I recorded in the recently added introduction), but the opinions Sam and I share about presenting Oz onscreen are still very relevant.

Also, taking into consideration some opinions from listeners, this episode is presented in mono instead of split stereo.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

See you at Winkies!

Those of you going, anyways.

I'm still ironing out the last details of my travel plans and getting a current photo ID just in case, but plans are all go.

There's also going to be a hiatus on the blogs about the Oz books as I'm awaiting some more Thompson books. And then, I'm thinking I'll take them with me so I have something to read on the way.

Sam, as you can probably guess, is not going because for me, it's enough expenditure to go halfway across the country, but for him, it's going to another country, and he has other commitments. So, I'll leave it to Sam to maybe write a blog or two while I'm gone.

As for another podcast, I'm editing one now and will have it up before I leave for Winkies. I'm attempting to do one podcast a month just now.

And speaking of Winkies and podcasts, if you're there, look for me (if I don't find you first!), I look like this and will be wearing a Royal Podcast of Oz pin. (If my finances would allow, I'd buy a lot and send them to all podcast guests!)

And by the way, if you're a Winkies attendee, or just interested in attending, you might want to get the (unofficial) Winkies Newsletter. It's monthly, with special reports every now and then.

And no, Debbie, I can't sneak away to the Being Human panel at the San Diego Comic Con!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Baum's Last Oz Story?

There may have been some credibility to the claim that Baum had some unfinished work left. This first part of a chapter appeared in the International Wizard of Oz Club's Baum Bugle in 1965 or 1966. (Any further information about this article or extract would be greatly appreciated.) The authorship of this bit is under intense scrutiny (see the first comment), hence why I'm not saying it's definitely Baum.

I found the text on an archived website that was maintained by Scott Andrew Hutchins.

As it is less than a chapter, there's really no point to analyzing it. Thanks to Scott for putting it in a digital format.
Those of you who have a map of the marvelous Land of Oz --the newly discovered Fairyland--will note in the park surrounding Ozma's Emerald City a pretty lake, into which flow the Munchkin River from the East and the Winkie River from the West.

This lake is very beautiful and is so close to Ozma's Palace of Magic that it has a right to possess magic qualities of its own. Usually it strikes the beholder as a lovely sheet of water, with the winds rippling its blue surface; again it is smooth as an ice-pond, and then the water is so clear that you can see the fishes lying on the sandy bottom, and see as well as anything what has fallen into the lake.

There was one boat drifting on the surface of this lake, for it was her own private property and no one except the girl Ruler of Oz or her personal friends was allowed to use it, and at times the people in Ozma's Palace or in the Emerald City would discover blue flames issuing directly from the center of the lake, forming a pyramid fifty feet high, but even then no one went near for fear of offending Ozma. If curiosity had at such times taken them to the banks of the lake they would have found that the flames nearest the lake were crimson; a little higher up they were yellow; then came the blue, blending itself into the yellow and extending high into the air, where it lost its flickering rays against the clear skies.

Like a good many things they did not understand, the Oz people regarded the lake and its fountain of tints with calm indifference. There were other lakes in Oz, more important if smaller in size, and they seldom ventured to linger around that of Ozma's Palace grounds. There was no law forbidding it, but the Oz people were shy and stood in awe of their gracious Queen, who had been, and was now, more powerful than anyone in the Land of Ozma, perhaps excepting Glinda, the Good Sorceress of Oz.

It cannot be denied that anyone in the Palace grounds wore an expression of curiosity when the Girl Ruler came tripping out of the Palace with her ice skates over her arm. She approached the lake one day and turning a faucet at the marble brim, shut off all the shifting colors. Then she turned another faucet and gradually the surface of the water became frozen, until it was fully hard enough to bear Ozma's weight.

During this period the girl was seated on the marble bank engaged in putting on her skates, the straps of which were covered with jewels. They fastened very quickly with snaps of solid cut diamonds and in a few moments Ozma was gracefully flying over the ice, enjoying the sport while dressed in a light summer gown and swinging a broad straw hat in her hand by means of its pink ribbons.

Suddenly the girl noticed a man standing by the fountain, gravely staring at her. He was a very tall man and not dressed in the costume of any of the nations of the Land of Oz. He carried a jeweled cane which he leaned against as he seriously examined the girl.

Ozma came gliding up to him.

"Good day," he said to her, stiffly, as he doffed his high hat and then put it on again; "is he still stuck in the pipe?"

"Who?" asked Ozma. "I did not know that anyone was stuck in the pipe."

"It's Ahd," returned the man. "He would climb into the other end of the pipe, although I warned him not to, because it is really too small for a fellow like Ahd; but he won't take advice, so there he is---somewhere in the pipe, and I'm anxious to get him out again."

Ozma turned the faucets and said a few magic words, and gradually the ice melted. Then the Ruler of Oz dove to the bottom of the lake, her costume sparkling wonderfully as she disappeared beneath the surface. Presently, she found the great pipe leading from the bottom of the lake to the sea. Almost at the end of the pipe was what seemed to her a huge ball of dark blue cloth, held fast by the encircling pipe. Then she swam to the surface again and approached the man who was now sitting on the marble parapet and eagerly watching her.

"Well?" he said, questioningly.

"Well?" returned Ozma; "tell me who you are, please."

"Me?" he rejoined, "why, I'm Gipper-Gupper-Gopp, one of the principal citizens of Hiland, which is ruled by John Dough, the Gingerbread Man, and Chick the Cherub."

"But the Kingdom of Hiland is far away to the West, across the shifting sands that surround Oz. It is not in the Land of Oz at all," protested Ozma. "And the pipe that leads from the bottom of this little lake--into which all the rivers of Oz flow--runs Eastward, to empty its waters in the Nonestic Ocean. The pipe runs under the Winkie Country of Oz, under the Deadly Desert, and under the dominions of the Nome King and of Rinkitink, before it reaches the Ocean."

"Quite true," replied the tall man.

"Then," said Ozma, "how does this boy, whom you call Ahd, happen to have entered the pipe from the Rinkitink Country, and crawled through it to my lake in Oz, while you, who come from a land the opposite side of this hidden Fairyland, meet him in this spot?"

"I haven't met him, as yet," the man reminded her, looking into the lake intently.

"But he's there, I'm quite sure," persisted Ozma.

"My story is a simple one, if unusual," answered the man Gipper-Gupper-Gopp, thoughtfully, "and if I tell it you will understand me better."

"I'm sure of that," she replied, watching her clothes gradually changing under his gaze to those of a fairy type.

"Button Bright is coming."

At that moment a small boy approached the lake, for he saw the tall stranger standing by its brink and wondered how he got there.

"Button Bright," Ozma said, "hasten away and command Lucion the gardener to come as quickly as possible to our aid."

"What's the matter?" asked the boy, who was buttoned up tightly and whose round face was full of curiosity.

"You will find out when you return," she replied.

So off dashed the little fellow.

"And tell him to bring the longest rake handle or pole he has," the girl called after him.

Button Bright was not very big nor moved very fast, but in what she deemed a short while he returned with Lucion the gardener, who dragged a long, thin pole in his wake.

"Here yer air, Miss," he said as he came to the border of the lake. "It's a good deal longer than the lake an' so I kep' it in case anything might happen."

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Glinda of Oz

Mr. Baum did his best to answer all the letters from his small earth-friends before he had to leave them, but he couldn't answer quite all, for there were very many. In May, nineteen hundred nineteen, he went away to take his stories to the little child-souls who had lived here too long ago to read the Oz stories for themselves.
And with those words, it was broken to children who hadn't yet heard that one of their favorite storytellers had died. That appeared in Glinda of Oz, the last Oz book that Baum wrote, in place of Baum's always fun introduction.

The story finds Dorothy and Ozma visiting Glinda, and Dorothy, reading the Book of Records notes the Flatheads and Skeezers are going to war with each other. Ozma decides she and Dorothy will go and try to reason with them, and in case they need Glinda's help, Glinda gives Dorothy a magic ring to summon her with.

Already in the first chapter, I note something different. Action is described in quite a bit of detail, more than was usual for Baum. Was this Baum's usual way (a quick view of the first page of manuscript shows a virtually identical piece of prose) and he often rewrote it? Now, while it seems safe to assume that Baum's story was left largely intact, a question arises of who might have edited the book or had to rewrite, if needed? A friend of mine suggested it might have been Maud Baum, the widow, or Ruth Plumly Thompson. I, however, think that it was simply a staff member at Reilly & Lee. I don't have any examples of fiction by Maud to compare it to (her literary work largely consists of letters and diaries), and the tone is a bit somber, a far cry from Thompson.

As I just said, the tone of the book is notably more somber than all of the previous Oz books. It seems Baum knew this would be his last Oz book (I wouldn't be surprised if a doctor had told him he didn't have long to live), and said not only his farewell to Oz, but to his readers. We know Baum said he had non-Oz stories he wanted to get out, but the demand for Oz prevented him from writing them, although he did find some work-arounds. Perhaps he was frustrated that those stories would not be told.

On their way north, Dorothy and Ozma are kidnapped by giant spiders, who want them to be their slaves, keeping them in webs, but a friendly crab offers to help in return for a color change. Dorothy and Ozma next encounter a misty valley, where they are helped along by the Mist Maidens, obviously cousins to the Daughters of the Rainbow and the Cloud Fairies the Wizard identified in Dorothy & The Wizard in Oz.

Camping overnight, Dorothy notes Ozma's fairy wand which can conjure up anything, and wishes everyone had one. Ozma replies that this would be detrimental to the work ethic of Oz, which keeps everyone happy and contented. With no struggle for happiness, there is only boredom. Baum believed in strong work ethics, and that there was no shame in honest work, however lowly it may be. One of my blog readers stated that it is pride in their work that keep the Oz people working, rather than just enjoying their play.

They reach the mountain of the Flatheads, which is blocked by an invisible wall, but the girls find a way in, then they head into a winding, complicated staircase that tires anyone easily. (Ten steps up, then five steps down.) They find the Flatheads to have flat heads, and as such, they have no room for brains, so they carry their brains in cans. The Su-Dic (Supreme Dictator) and his wife stole brains from other Flatheads and made themselves the rulers. The war with the Skeezers began when Rora, the Su-Dic's wife, went to catch fish in the Skeezer's lake, and did not heed Queen Coo-ee-oh of the Skeezers when told to stop, so she was turned into a golden pig.

Seeing that the Flatheads will not submit to their peaceful errand, Dorothy and Ozma escape to the submersible island of the Skeezers, where Queen Coo-ee-oh similarly defies them. Her servant, Lady Aurex, though, tells them that Coo-ee-oh learned magic from the three Adepts at Magic, who ruled the Flatheads. But Coo-ee-oh turned on them and transformed them into fish. However, she was warned that if they died, she would shrivel and lose her power. Thus, she kept them in the lake, and that is why no one was allowed to catch fish: they might kill the Adepts.

Coo-ee-oh keeps Dorothy and Ozma in her palace and submerges the city. The next morning, the Su-Dic and some Flatheads arrive to dump poison into the lake. Queen Coo-ee-oh and some of her soldiers go out in submarine boats to fight them, but using a magic potion, the Su-Dic turns her into a diamond swan. However, he also accidentally spills the poison onto the ground, so it cannot harm the fish.

Seeing that they are now stranded in the submerged city, Dorothy summons Glinda, who reads of the situation in the Book of Records and assembles one of the largest rescue parties Baum ever had. Aside from Glinda and the Wizard, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, the Cowardly Lion, Tik-Tok, Scraps, the Shaggy Man, Cap'n Bill, Trot, the Woggle-Bug, the Frogman, Uncle Henry, Betsy Bobbin, the Glass Cat, Button-Bright, and Ojo go to the Skeezer's lake. Of all the seventeen characters, very few of them actually do anything. Button-Bright gets lost and Ojo notices he's missing, and after Glinda rescues and scold Button-Bright, the two boys might as well have gone home because they don't do anything else.

One thing I noticed about the chapter detailing their conference is that a long time is spent detailing the characters, but the conference is extremely short. I almost wonder if Baum wrote it this way or the previously mentioned editor or re-writer expanded on it, trying to fill some extra pages.

While Glinda is on her way, the abandoned soldiers from Coo-ee-oh's boat grew less in number, as one of them, named Ervic, was told by three fishes to carry them away to Red Reera, a Yookoohoo. (She says she is the best Yookoohoo in Oz, and considering Mrs. Yoop is now a green monkey and probably didn't know her craft quite so well as she would have had us believe, this sound right.)

When Glinda arrives at the lake, she attempts to summon the three fishes, and even finds the other soldiers and their boat, which she and the Wizard take to the island, but cannot enter.

Red Reera changes her shape and the shape of everything that lives in her home many times a day, and hates being disturbed, so when Ervic arrives, she is not kind to him. However, he manages to convince her that he would hate for the three fishes to become girls, especially Adepts at Magic, so in order to spite him, she turns the fishes into the Adepts again, and when it is revealed to her, she is amused, but asks that in return, they tell no one what happened.

The Adepts and Ervic arrive at the lake and they finally hit upon a solution: drain some water from the lake (possibly blocking an inlet and speeding the flow of water through an outlet?) to let them at least access the Dome. They manage to remove part of the dome, and using a rope, Glinda, the Wizard, and the Adepts arrive in the Skeezer city and are reunited with Dorothy and Ozma.

They find Coo-ee-oh's workshop and discover she raised and lowered the island with a magic ritual of burning some magic powder and saying a magic word, which Dorothy decides might be a syllable of her name. Accidentally setting free the boats, they discover Dorothy guessed the truth, and raise the island permanently.

Lady Aurex is made the new ruler of the Skeezers, and the group head over to Flathead Mountain, where the Adepts quickly resume their former status as rulers of the Flatheads, deposing the Su-Dic and restoring his wife. In addition, Glinda and the Adepts give the Flatheads round heads with their formerly canned brains inside, so no one can steal each others brains anymore.

And that is how Baum's last story ended, not exactly conclusive, leaving the story of Oz open. While it was a great finale for Baum, it also maintained that there were still parts of Oz that were not yet under Ozma's control, and many new adventures yet to be had.

Glinda of Oz is a finely written book, with a notably tighter plot than most of the other Oz books, however, it is not quite as joyous, even when everyone gets a happy ending, Ozma simply maintains they were doing their duty.

Would the publishers take advantage of the open ending of the book? Look at how they ended their introduction:
But he (Baum) left some unfinished notes about the Princess Ozma and Dorothy and the Oz people and we promise that some day we will put them all together like a picture puzzle and give you more stories of the wonderful Land of Oz.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

The Magic of Oz

"L. Frank Baum is dead," the New York Times published in 1919, "and the children, if they knew it, would mourn. That endless procession of 'Oz' books, coming out just before Christmas, is to cease."

And now we come to Baum's last Oz stories. He'd submitted it prior to his death. It's a little sad, realizing that by tracing his Oz stories, we've looked over the last 19 years of this man's life, 19 years of successes and failures, but eminently, a man who left the world contented, the best way anyone could die. And that's what he earned, after writing so many stories that pleased children.

The Magic of Oz opens in a unique form: we come to a spot we just missed in the last book: Mount Munch, which was near Nimmee Amee's home. On the top of the Mountain live the Hyups. Bini Aru, a father of a Hyup family, was a practicing magician, until Ozma placed her magic ban. Unlike most characters, Bini Aru actually obeyed Ozma's command, stopped practicing magic, and destroyed his magic tools. However, he kept one magic secret with him: a magic word of transformation "pyrzqxgl." The secret was not in the word, but how it is pronounced, something that Baum does not reveal. (If this book ever got an adaptation, I wonder how that would be handled.) He writes the word, and how to pronounce it, on a floor board, and replaces it in the floor, in case he can ever practice magic again.

Some time later, when the story really begins, Bini's son Kiki is home alone and seeing if he can find any of his father's magic tools. However, he stumbles (literally) upon the secret of "pyrzqxgl" and memorizes it, fleeing Oz in the form of a bird, making his way to Ev.

The thing is, Kiki doesn't want to cause trouble or do anyone any harm. He just grew tired of living on Mount Munch and wanted to go somewhere where he would be happy. And considering he left Oz as soon as he had broken the law, he's not really defying Ozma. But, however, he soon gives away to dishonesty, when he turns into a thieving magpie (Gioachino Rossini reference?) to get money to stay overnight at an inn. However, he is scolded for his wicked deed by a bird, but it turns out there was another witness: Ruggedo, the former Nome King.

Apparently, Ruggedo decided not to live peacefully as a Nome, as indicated in Tik-Tok of Oz, but was allowed to leave with all the jewels he could carry. It's almost like Ruggedo's repentance in that book didn't happen at all, but on the other hand, he does tell his story to Kiki with a few alterations to make the people of Oz sound really bad, so I wouldn't be surprised if Kaliko threw him out.

Seeing what Kiki can do (but not how he can do it), Ruggedo convinces him to use his power of transformation to conquer Oz for himself. While Kiki agrees, both plan to turn on each other at the first possible moment.

Meanwhile, Ozma's birthday is coming up again, and Dorothy wants to give her a unique present. Bungle the Glass Cat is leading Trot and Cap'n Bill to a Magic Flower, Scraps is writing a song, the Scarecrow is making Ozma straw slippers, the Tin Woodman is making her girdles made of tin and studded with emeralds, and Glinda is making an emerald gown. However, Glinda suggests that Dorothy make a cake with a surprise in the middle. Dorothy decides to get the Wizard's help and have a dozen monkeys shrunken to hide in the middle of the cake to perform tricks and serve the cake. In order to do this, they ride the Cowardly Lion and Hungry Tiger to the Forest of Gugu.

Trot and Cap'n Bill follow Bungle to the tiny island where the Magic Flower is (as it is already in a pot), but upon reaching it, they find themselves rooted to the island, except Bungle and Cap'n Bill's peg leg. Convincing Bungle that she will be hailed as a hero, appealing to the cat's vanity, they send her to fetch the Wizard to help them.

Meanwhile, Kiki Aru and Ruggedo fly to the Forest of Gugu in the form of birds, where they take the form of Li-Mon-Eags (bodies of monkeys, heads of lions, wings of eagles, and donkey's tails with a gold ball at the end) and convince King Gugu the leopard to try to get the animals to revolt against the people of Oz, claiming that Ozma intends to enslave them. And as Gugu speaks to the animals, Dorothy and the Wizard arrive. Kiki, upon seeing a real magician, panics and transforms the Wizard into a fox, Dorothy into a lamb, the Cowardly Lion into a Munchkin boy, the Hungry Tiger into a rabbit, Gugu into a fat woman, and Ruggedo into a goose, Kiki stealing the Wizard's black bag in the confusion.

The Glass Cat finds out where the Wizard went and heads to the Forest of Gugu, where she finds the Wizard and the other victims of enchantments, and eventually, the Black Bag, where Kiki discarded it.

Kiki and Ruggedo have reunited, Kiki making Ruggedo a Li-Mon-Eag again, and Ruggedo convinces him to transform some monkeys into giant soldiers with swords. (Neill draws them as WWI American soldiers.) However, the Wizard has managed to hide in a hollow tree where Kiki says the magic word so Ruggedo won't hear him. Learning the pronunciation, the Wizard leaps out and turns Kiki and Ruggedo into nuts and restores his friends. He also bargains with Rango the Grey Ape to get the monkeys Dorothy wants by refusing to restore the transformed monkeys until he gets the monkeys Dorothy wants for the present.

Bungle now guides the Wizard and Dorothy to Trot and Cap'n Bill, who have discovered that the Magic Flower will bear fruit, a Lonesome Duck (because he scorns company) lives around there and gave them some toadstools to sit on, and that the Island will make them shrink into nothingness. The Wizard manages to rescue them with the magic word by temporarily transforming them into bees. Deciding that the island only affects flesh (including leather, why their shoes rooted) that actually touches the surface, Cap'n Bill straps a piece of wood around his non-peg leg and finally gets the Magic Flower.

And now, all head back to the Emerald City and prepare for Ozma's birthday, which is a much smaller and quieter affair than the one back in The Road to Oz, and after the celebration, the monkeys are restored to their proper sizes and sent back to the Forest of Gugu.

In the denouement of the story, the Wizard uses the magic word to restore Kiki and Ruggedo to their proper forms, but also makes them thirsty so they'll drink the Water of Oblivion and forget their magic and their wicked ways.

What Baum does here is just doing what he did best: write a good story. Probably the only really philosophical point in the whole book comes from Cap'n Bill...
"There's lots o' things folks don't 'preciate," replied the sailor-man. "If somethin' would 'most stop your breath, you'd think breathin' easy was the finest thing in life. When a person's well, he don't realize how jolly it is, but when he gets sick he 'members the time he was well, an' wishes that time would come back. Most folks forget to thank God for givin' 'em two good legs, till they lose one o' 'em, like I did; and then it's too late, 'cept to praise God for leavin' one."
What I think is interesting is that the Wizard now has a new magic secret that could let him do almost anything. However, I've not seen new Oz stories use it often.

The Nome King is back for his final Baum appearance, and now he's allowed to stay in Oz where Ozma can keep an eye on him. (Don't worry, though, other writers would ensure that it isn't the last we've seen of him.) But a puzzling problem lies in Kiki Aru. How can they bring him home? And though Dorothy and Ozma think he must have gone bad, the story told us it was a fairly recent corruption by Ruggedo, and if he hadn't kept on about it, Kiki might have gone with his original plan to just move somewhere he could be happy. Anyways, perhaps Glinda's Book of Records could tell them about Kiki's activities and they could figure it out from there, or they could head to Bear Center and ask the little pink bear.

Anyways, now that Baum was gone, many readers and reviewers despaired of getting new Oz books. But would the next year bring anything? We shall see.