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The Lost King of Oz

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Written by  Ruth Plumly Thompson
Illustrator  John R. Neill
Published  1925
Publisher  Reilly & Lee

The Lost King of Oz is the nineteenth volume in the Oz book series, and the fifth Oz novel written by Ruth Plumly Thompson.

Thompson dedicated the book to her invalid mother. She suggested that the dedication be cast in the form of a crossword puzzle (the puzzles were then a craze) — but Reilly & Lee rejected the idea.


Old Mombi, formerly the Wicked Witch of the North, now cooks for King Kinda Jolly in the land of Kimbaloo. One day she encounters Pajuka, a former prime minister of Oz, whom she had enchanted into a goose years before. Mombi sets out to find Pastoria, one-time king of Oz, whom she had also enchanted in the past.

She kidnaps a local boy called Snip, to be her unwilling assistant and bearer of burdens. When she decides that he has learned too much of her business, Mombi throws Snip down a well; he ends up in the city of Blankenburg, populated by the invisible Blanks. Snip meets and rescues Tora, an amnesiac old tailor. Tora has been held prisoner for many years by the Blanks, to do their tailoring; he has compensated by sending his detachable ears flying about the countryside to learn the news.

Dorothy, meanwhile, is accidentally and magically transported to Hollywood, where she meets Humpy, a live stunt dummy; she brings him back to Oz. The escape the Back Talkers of Eht Kcab Sdoow (by running backwards), and meet the Scooters who help scoot them on their way. Kabumpo the Elegant Elephant shows up, and provides transportation (the mundane sort). Dorothy's party encounters Snip and Tora, and Mombi and Pajuka too. They come to the conclusion that Humpy the dummy is the enchanted Pastoria.

Eventually, matters are clarified and settled: Pajuka is restored to humanity, but Humpy proves not to be the missing king after all. Old Tora is disenchanted and turns out to be the missing Pastoria. He spurns any notion of returning to his throne, however; he is content to settle down as a humble tailor in the Emerald City, with Snip as his apprentice, and Humpy as his tailor's dummy.

In a rare act of Ozian capital punishment, Mombi is ruthlessly dissolved in water like the Wicked Witch of the West, so that nothing is left of her but her buckled shoes.


In this book as in some others, Thompson exploits a minor detail in Baum's works to develop her story. Baum mentions Pastoria only briefly in The Marvelous Land of Oz, Chapter 20; Thompson spins Baum's mention into a full tale of the king's exile.


When Dorothy is in California, the anti-aging magic spell that prevails in Oz no longer affects her. She begins to grow, rapidly, into the young woman she would then have been if she had never left the United States. In a panic, she quickly wishes herself back to Oz, where she is a child once more.


With this title, Reilly & Lee took a new approach to promoting the Oz books. Thomspon wrote a short play for child actors titled A Day in Oz; composer Norman Sherrerd provided songs. The play was performed in department stores and bookstores by local child actors; Reilly & Lee supplied scripts and costumes. The performances promoted each year's Oz book, and continued through the later 1920s.


In the story "Executive Decisions" from Oziana 38, author David Tai revisits this story to show that, in fact, Ozma had not had Mombi executed. This is in keeping with Baum's characterization of Ozma as a pacifist.


  • David L. Greene and Dick Martin. The Oz Scrapbook. New York, Random House, 1977.

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