One morning, the residents of Oz awaken to confront a rash of mysterious disappearances. Most crucially, Dorothy Gale discovers that Princess Ozma is missing from her bedchamber, and no one knows where she is. Dorothy and her friends cannot search for Ozma with the Magic Picture, for that too is gone. At her palace in the Quadling Country, Glinda finds that both the Great Book of Records and her collection of magical implements have vanished overnight. The Wizard of Oz soon learns that his black bag of magic has joined the roster of missing items.
And in a remote corner of Oz yet another object is missing. In the far southwest of the Winkie Country live the Yips, a community of isolated highlanders; A Yip known as Cayke the Cookie Cook has lost her magic, jewel-studded golden dishpan. Shocked at the loss of this crucial resource, Cayke consults the Frogman, a giant frog who functions as something of a local wise man (or wise frog). (In fact he is not very wise, but compensates with bluster and ego.) The two head down to the lowlands of Oz in quest of said dishpan.
The residents of the Royal Palace in the Emerald City organize themselves into three search parties. Ojo, Unc Nunkie and Dr. Pipt are dispatched to their home grounds, the Munchkin Country; the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman head for the Quadling Country; Tik-Tok, Jack Pumpkinhead, and the Shaggy Man and his brother go north to the Gillikin Country. To the Winkie Country goes the fourth and largest group, consisting of the Wizard, Dorothy, Trot, and Button-Bright, riding in the red wagon drawn by the Sawhorse; also the Cowardly Lion, plus Betsy Bobbin riding her mule Hank, and the Patchwork Girl riding the Woozy. Toto follows along behind. Glinda appoints Cap'n Bill to man the Palace in the general absence.
Dorothy and company proceed through a range of strange adventures in exotic locales. After passing the Merry-Go-Round Mountains, they encounter the cities of Thi and Herku. In the Great Orchard separating the cities, Button-Bright eats a peach, and discovers a golden peach pit within. Local animals (bluefinch and white rabbit) warn him that the pit has been enchanted by Ugu the Shoemaker.
The Czarover of Herku informs the searchers about Ugu, a local craftsman who trained himself to be a powerful magician. Ugu left town and built himself a wickerwork castle in the remote mountains; Dorothy and the Wizard grow suspicious. Heading toward Ugu's castle, the group meets Cayke and the Frogman, plus the Lavender Bear, the stuffed animal who rules Bear Center. The Lavender Bear carries his Little Pink Bear, a wind-up toy that can answer any question about the past.
As they approach Ugu's castle, Button-Bright wanders off and falls into a pit. The Little Pink Bear states that Ozma is in the pit too. Once Button-Bright is helped out of the pit, Pink Bear maintains that Ozma is there with them. Unable to unravel this conundrum, the searchers proceed to the castle, and surmount Ugu's magical defenses. Dorothy eventually defeats Ugu by turning him into a dove, using the Magic Belt. The stolen magical instruments are recovered. Pink Bear tells the group that Ozma is in Button-Bright's jacket pocket. The gold peach pit is revealed; the Wizard pries it open, releasing Ozma from Ugu's enchantment.
Good order is restored to Oz. Days later, Ugu in dove form comes to Dorothy and expresses his remorse for his actions. Dorothy offers to restore him to human form, but the repentant shoemaker prefers to remain a dove.
- Dorothy Gale
- Betsy Bobbin
- Wizard of Oz
- Patchwork Girl
- Cowardly Lion
- The Frogman
- Lavender Bear
- Ugu the Shoemaker
Baum originally titled the book Three Girls in Oz, and then Adventures in Oz, before settling on the final title. In his prefatory note "To My Readers," Baum explained how the plot arose from suggestions from his child readers. An eleven-year-old girl suggested to Baum that "if Ozma ever got lost, or stolen, ev'rybody in Oz would be dreadful sorry."
Baum was struck by gall bladder disease during work on this book; he put off surgery and endured significant pain in order to finish the project. (The disease would kill him two years later.)
- Katharine M. Rogers. L. Frank Baum, Creator of Oz: A Biography. New York, St. Martin's Press, 2002.
- Richard Tuerk. Oz in Perspective: Magic and Myth in the L. Frank Baum Books. Jefferson, NC, McFarland, 2007.
|L. Frank Baum's original Oz books|