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Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz

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Written by  Ruth Plumly Thompson
Illustrator  John R. Neill
Published  1929
Publisher  Reilly & Lee

Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz is the twenty-third volume in the Oz book series, and the ninth written by Ruth Plumly Thompson.


A rainy day in Philadelphia means no baseball; Peter Brown mopes in his attic. He finds the sacks that were full of gold when he brought them back from his first Oz adventure two years earlier (in The Gnome King of Oz); and one of those sacks contains an odd gold coin. Toying with the coin and thinking of Oz, Peter wishes himself back there — and suddenly finds himself in Jack Pumpkinhead's front yard.

The sensible thing for Peter to do is to head for the Emerald City; and Jack is ready to act as his guide. Guiding is not Jack's strong suit; the two quickly get lost in the Quadling Country, where they blunder into Chimneyville and Scare City. By chance, Peter finds that his empty sack will consume objects and creatures that are scooped into its open mouth. Jack and Peter also happen to obtain the magic dinner bell of Jinnicky the Red Jinn, which supplies Peter with needed provisions.

The two travelers adopt a third member for their party when they meet the doggerel-spouting Snif the Iffin (he's a griffin who has lost his "gr-"). The three then encounter the unfortunate Belfaygor, the Baron of Bourne. He has been accidentally cursed with a rapidly-growing beard that he must constantly snip away. Even worse, his fiancee, the princess Shirley Sunshine, has been kidnapped by the local villain, Mogodore the Mighty, the Baron of Baffleburg.

Boy, baron, iffin, and pumpkinhead set out to remedy this situation, and quickly become enwrapped in complexities involving a Forbidden Flagon and a talkative and abusive Sauce Box. When Mogodore sets out to conquer Oz and actually seizes the Emerald City, the travelers have to mount a desperate rescue effort. Eventually, Jack, with help from Jinnicky, manages to save the day: with the Forbidden Flagon, he reduces Mogodore and his thousand warriors to little beings "no bigger than brownies."

The miniaturized aggressors are confined to their homeland, which is also miniaturized. Snif the Iffin recovers his lost "gr-." Order in Oz is restored, with a great celebratory banquet before Peter is sent home, with thanks, once again.


In Maybe the Miffin (1993), Phyllis Ann Karr imagines Snif the Iffin searching for his lost mate.

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The Giant Horse of Oz The Yellow Knight of Oz

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