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Eureka in Oz

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Eureka in Oz: Being the Story of How Eureka Met Dorothy, How She Returned to Oz in Secret, How She Learned to be a Good Citizen, and Why She Turned Pink is a modern-day Oz novel, written by David Hulan and published in 2003. It is illustrated with some of John R. Neill's pictures from the original Oz books of L. Frank Baum. The book is available on the Internet.

Summary

Eureka is a white kitten, born to an alley cat in Sydney, Australia. She soon leaves her mother's crowded brood and sets out on her own, learning the harsh ways of survival for a stray cat in a big city. Her fortunes take a radical turn for the better when she is found and adopted by Dorothy Gale, who is visiting Australia with her Uncle Henry. Dorothy is able to bring Eureka home with her to the United States.

Before they reach Kansas, however, girl and kitten are sidetracked into a subterranean adventure that leads them to Oz. Hulan does not recap the entire story, but simply refers his readers to Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz. Yet he specifies the crucial point that after her first visit, Eureka leaves Oz under Ozma's displeasure, over the Nine Tiny Piglets affair.

Eureka adapts to her new home in Kansas, forming a guarded friendship with Toto and a generally satisfactory adjustment to new surroundings. Yet the kitten misses the advantages of animal life in Oz — being able to talk and to see in colors. When Dorothy and Toto meet the Shaggy Man, Eureka is suspicious and tags along behind, unknown to her mistress. When the three are magically transported to Nonestica, the kitten is close enough to be drawn along. Eureka surreptitiously follows Dorothy and her companions on the adventure recounted in The Road to Oz; though she is eventually discovered by both Toto and Polychrome, she is not betrayed to her mistress.

Polychrome conceals the kitten on the ride across the Deadly Desert in Johnny Dooit's sand boat. Once in Oz, though, Eureka departs from the others; they are going to the Emerald City, and Eureka does not want to be discovered and sent home again by Ozma. She likes Oz enough to want to stay permanently, even if it means leaving Dorothy. (Eureka thinks Dorothy should move to Oz permanently herself, with Uncle Henry and Aunt Em, which in fact happens at the end of The Emerald City of Oz.)

While hunting for her food, Eureka comes upon the Queen of the Field Mice. In return for sparing her life, the Queen helps Eureka with her problem; she introduces the kitten to Professor Nowitall, who accepts Eureka as his student. (He has no others, having lost them all to Prof. Wogglebug's Royal College of Athletic Perfection.) Nowitall teaches Eureka the mores and manners of Oz, and instructs her in Ozian history and culture.

The two also have an adventure of their own. Eureka learns that the four countries of Oz take their characteristic colors from the actions of primitive color-fairies called tixies. Occasionally these tixies wander from their proper places, causing "chromatically incorrect" aberrations. This happens in Nowitall's neighborhood: a red tixie from the Quadling Country wanders across the Winkie River and starts turning yellow things orange. The resourceful Eureka captures the tixie and returns it to its natural range; in the process her white fur is turned pink.

When the time is right, Prof. Nowitall takes Eureka to the Emerald City to meet Dorothy and appeal to Ozma for permission to stay. In Ozma's court, the kitten is given a hearing and wins residency. Once Dorothy also comes to Oz permanently, the girl and kitten are re-united; both become continuing students of Nowitall, which fills in Dorothy's need for further education.

Background

Hulan introduces no new characters or settings in this book; he confines himself to the inspirations and materials of Baum.

Like other modern Oz authors, Hulan fills in gaps in the Oz heritage left by Baum and comments upon aspects of it. He gives an explanation of how the Soldier with the Green Whiskers becomes Omby Amby and back again. (Like most Oz fans, he treats the two figures as one and the same.)

Hulan also comments upon the moneyless economy of Oz. In Chapter 9 of his book, Nowitall and Eureka take a free ride on a ferry across the Winkie River. The ferryman explains that he used to work for pay, but under Ozma's regime he provides his service for free and is supplied with what he needs from Ozma's storehouses. For him at least, the socialist economy of Ozma's domain works entirely satisfactorily.

Cat of many colors

Hulan's book is designed to explain a contradiction in Baum's books. Eureka is a white kitten when she is first introduced (in Dorothy and the Wizard), but becomes a pink and even a purple kitten in later books (The Patchwork Girl of Oz and after). Hulan accounts for her color change from white to pink through her encounter with the Quadling tixie. He does not address the later change to purple that is indicated in Glinda of Oz — but a future encounter with a tixie from the purple Gillikin Country could account for that too.

Hulan was not the first or only writer to consider Eureka's color change; Chris Dulabone, Glenn Ingersoll, and March Laumer all address the matter.

Predation

Hulan gives a detailed picture of animal predation that involves the complex question of death in Oz, and which appears to contradict Baum's statements, such as in The Road to Oz, page 166, where Dorothy notes that "in Oz all animals were treated with as much consideration as the people -- 'if they behave themselves.'"  Note that there's no distinction between a talking and non-talking variety (and Baum never depicts the latter). Tik-Tok of Oz confirms this in its denouement when Betsy asks Dorothy if all animals in Oz can talk, and Dorothy responds saying that all but Toto can. Glinda of Oz also confirms on page 146 and 224 that all animals in Oz can speak, including "fish." Even Ruth Plumly Thompson, in Handy Mandy in Oz, notes on page 49 that "All creatures in Oz can talk, even the mice and squirrels."

In Hulan's conception, however, Eureak makes her way through the countryside, hunting and eating small prey, mostly grasshoppers and beetles (which may not be sapient). She has a conversation with a canary, in which the bird advises her against preying on animals that talk. Eureka also faces the fact that she can be hunted in turn, by falcons and other large beasts. There is a dichotomy between higher animals that can talk and lower animals that cannot, including simple mammals like voles.

While hunting, Eureka captures the Queen of the Field Mice, but prudently inquires if the mouse can talk before she strikes to kill. Eureka spares the talking mouse's life, and in so doing earns a valuable friend; among other services, the Queen testifies for Eureka before Ozma's court. Once Eureka is living with Nowitall, the Professor feeds her from the meaty portions of the meals he gets from sandwich trees and dinner-pail trees. Apparently, these are resources that the wild animals of Oz cannot or do not exploit on their own. At the end of the book, Eureka's hearing before Ozma includes a discussion of natural predation in Oz.

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