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Ojo in Oz

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Ojoinoz
Written by  Ruth Plumly Thompson
Illustrator  John R. Neill
Published  1933
Publisher  Reilly & Lee

Ojo in Oz is the twenty-seventh book in the Oz book series, and the thirteenth Oz book written by Ruth Plumly Thompson.

Thompson dedicated the book to her young niece Dorothy Bispham Curtiss (yet another Dorothy of Oz).

Summary

As the story begins, Ojo and Unc Nunkie are living in a green cottage with blue shutters, which abuts the wall of the Emerald City. Their peaceful routine is disrupted when Ojo is kidnapped by gypsies. He is not their only victim: the gypsies also hold a bear named Snufferbux, who they force to dance and perform for them. Soon enough, the gypsies are overcome by a gang of bandits. The bandit chieftain Realbad discovers a parchment in the gypsy leader's vest, which states that anyone who brings Ojo to Moojer Mountain will receive a bounty of 5000 bags of sapphires. Realbad and his thieves take Ojo and Snufferbux back to their secret cave.

Ojo overhears some of the bandits plotting against Realbad's leadership, for they suspect that their chief is too sympathetic to Ojo and not dedicated ruthlessly enough to their criminal aims. Realbad, Ojo, and Snufferbux stage a magically-aided escape, and head off on a journey of adventure that brings them to exotic places — a frozen crystal city guarded by a great blue dragon, and Dicksy Land, Unicorners, and Tappy Town. They battle a fierce Snoctorotomus and meet X. Pando the elevator man.

In the process, Ojo and Realbad form a bond of close friendship — to the distress of Snufferbux, who nourishes a deep mistrust of the bandit. Eventually Snufferbux waylays Realbad and persuades Ojo to leave the bandit behind them.

Meanwhile, Unc Nunkie seeks out the help of princess Ozma as soon as he realizes Ojo is missing. The Wizard of Oz prepares to use his magic searchlight to locate Ojo; Ozma sends out a party of potential rescuers that includes Dorothy Gale, the Patchwork Girl, and the Cowardly Lion. The rescue party goes awry, however; the three find their own way to Moojer Mountain, where they are enchanted and turned into clocks by the malevolent magician Mooj, the man who seeks possession of Ojo.

Ojo and Snufferbux inadvertently reach the same hut atop Moojer Mountain, and blunder into Mooj's clutches. Rescue is soon at hand, however: Realbad arrives on the back of Roganda the queen of the unicorns, and Ozma and the Wizard also appear. Mooj is overcome, Ojo is saved, and the enchanted Ozians, Dorothy, Scraps, and the Lion, are returned to their natural states. Mooj's motives are revealed: he has usurped the throne of Seebania, and pursues Ojo because the boy is the crown prince and heir to that principality. Realbad turns out to be the rightful ruler of Seebania and Ojo's father.

Ozma sets things right with her magic. The gypsies are exiled from Oz, and Mooj is reduced to a single drop of water in the Nonestic Ocean. Ojo is united with Unc Nunkie and his newly-discovered father in a happy new family.

Background

Thompson sets her story almost entirely in the Munchkin Country of Oz. In her books, though, she never resolves one of the basic contradictions in Oz lore — whether the Munchkins live in the east or west of Oz. In this book (though not in others), Thompson places the Munchkin Country in the west of Oz, counter to Baum's original intent but in agreement with later maps of Oz.

When Ojo and Snufferbux meet X. Pando the human elevator, Snufferbux has never seen an elevator and is unfamiliar with the concept. Ojo, in contrast, is well familiar with the device, since there are "many elevators" in the Emerald City. This is a sign of evolving urbanism in Oz. Baum's Emerald City is a place of small buildings and the occasional palace; the word "elevator" never occurs in his fifteen Oz books (the fourteen novels and the Little Wizard stories). Thompson's City is more urbanized than Baum's; subsequently John R. Neill goes even farther, and gives the City skyscrapers.

At one point in Ojo in Oz, the dictator Dickus the Third of Dicksy Land reads a book by Dickens — the only instance in the "Famous Forty" novels in which a book from the outside world is known to be in Oz.

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