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Spots in Oz

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"Spots in Oz" is a short story by Rachel Cosgrove Payes, published in Oz-story Magazine No. 3 in 1997. In it, Cosgrove Payes revisits one of her most distinctive characters, the Leopard with the Changeable Spots, introduced in her 1951 book The Hidden Valley of Oz.

In a remote corner of the Winkie Country live a set of twins: Fridolf and Tamlyn naturally prefer their nicknames, Fudge and Taffy. As twins will, they quarrel and quibble; in a dispute over their birthday presents, Taffy decides to sabotage her brother's experiments with his new chemistry set. She adds an herbal ingredient to the spot remover he's making; accidental magic makes all the spots in the neighborhood fade away.

By chance, the Hungry Tiger and the Leopard with the Changeable Spots are passing by; and Spots is astonished and distressed when his markings disappear. The big cats track the problem down to one particular family. Eventually, Taffy has to confess what she's done. A neighboring herbalist is able to counteract the magic, and restore the Leopard and other spotted entities to their original condition.

In the course of the story, the Leopard manifests his spots into exclamation points and question marks, smily faces, balloons, birthday cakes, and exploding fireworks.

Payes was not the first Oz author to employ twins as protagonists. Jack Snow, in The Shaggy Man of Oz, and David Hulan, in The Glass Cat of Oz, did the same.

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