Abbadiah and Zebbidiah Jones are twins from Buffalo, New York; they prefer their nicknames, Twink and Tom. The twins enjoy watching cowboy serials on the family television set, customized by their scientist father with its own wall-sized projection screen. While the twins are watching TV one afternoon, the normal picture changes to a beautiful scene with a castle in the background. The children are confronted by a living toy clown, the duplicate of the familiar toy they have named Twoffle. This living version, who calls himself Twiffle, persuades them to walk into the screen before them; the kids are magically transported into the scene.
Twiffle explains that he is the third cousin of the twins' toy, Twoffle; the two beings have had long conversations about Twink and Tom while the children have slept. Twiffle serves a sorcerer named Conjo; they are on Conjo's island in the Nonestic Ocean, and are headed for Conjo's castle.
Meanwhile, a problem has arisen in the Emerald City in Oz: the Love Magnet had been hanging above the city's entrance gate, but has now fallen from its nail and broken in two. Princess Ozma consults with the Shaggy Man, who first brought the talisman to Oz; they determine that the magnet can be repaired only by the magician who created it — none other than Conjo. In the Magic Picture, they watch Twink, Tom, and Twiffle approach Conjo's castle. Surpised at the presence of two human children, Ozma decides to send Shaggy there immediately to investigate. Ozma equips Shaggy with a magic compass that will return him to Oz whenever he chooses. (Ozma herself will be unavailable, sequestered with Glinda as they work on deep magics.)
Ozma transports Shaggy with her Magic Belt; he joins the children and Twiffle, much to their surprise. The four go to Conjo, who is short, fat, bald, and untrustworthy. Conjo agrees to fix the love magnet, though he wants the magic compass in payment. The visitors stay the night; but Shaggy is awakened from sleep by a slight disturbance in his chamber. He realizes that Conjo has repaired and returned the love magnet, but has also taken the magic compass. It turns out that Conjo has lured the children to his island to rob them of their memories and use them as servants. Shaggy, Twiffle, and the twins escape from the island in Conjo's Airmobile.
They reach a sky country called Hightown; and the Airmobile is accidentally lost, stranding them. They learn they can leave Hightown merely by swimming and walking down through the air, since gravity is negated in the town's vicinity. The party next find their way to the Valley of Romance, where they stumble into an unpleasant situation, but escape via the love magnet's influence. On the road again, the four encounter the King of the Fairy Beavers. The King agrees to help them reach Oz, if they invite him to visit — and Shaggy is happy to oblige. The travelers and their beaver companions make their way under the Deadly Desert through the Nome King's tunnel (from The Emerald City of Oz). They arrive in the Emerald City — only to stumble into a crisis.
Conjo has used the magic compass to reach Oz, where he has grabbed the Wizard's black bag of magic and locked himself in the Wizard's laboratory. Conjo wants to supplant the Wizard and gain control of Oz for himself. The Fairy Beaver King defeats Conjo with his water magic, squirting a jet of water from the Forbidden Fountain into Conjo's mouth. The now amnesiac Conjo is returned to his island in Twiffle's care, for re-education. Tom and Twink have a pleasant stay in Oz before Ozma sends them home again.
The Love Magnet was introduced by Baum in his fifth Oz book, The Road to Oz.
Shaggy Man and John Dough
As Snow had depended heavily upon Baum's The Emerald City of Oz for his first book, The Magical Mimics in Oz, so he depended heavily on Baum's John Dough and the Cherub for this second book. (The relationship in the prior case was overt and obvious; in the second it is far more covert. The John Dough book had long been out of print by 1949, and few readers would have been able to detect the resemblances.)
In both John Dough and Shaggy Man, the protagonsists escape an exotic but dangerous place (the Island of Phreex; Conjo's island) in a borrowed flying machine; they travel to other places from which, in turn, they again need to escape. The Baum book has a Palace of Romance, the Snow book, a Valley of Romance; and neither is a good place for visitors. In Snow's Hightown, the people and tall and thin and live in tall thin houses — just as in Baum's Hiland. In both novels, the heroes meet the King of the Fairy Beavers, who helps them to their destination.
Snow's first Oz book had not been a popular success; in one view, Oz books were too old-fashioned for post-World-War-II society. Reilly & Lee published Snow's second book in 1949, to coincide with the re-release of the MGM movie The Wizard of Oz in that year.
Snow took a stab at modernization in his second book. The child protagonists are a contemporary Amrican girl and boy; their father is a scientist and a university professor. The family owns an early-model TV set, and the professor has modified it with a large projection screen of his own design. Conjo the magician has an aircraft, which flies not merely by "magic" but by anti-gravity plates.
Snow's effort still did not result in commercial success. Publisher Reilly & Lee did not seek another Oz book from him, and the next book in the series came from an unknown first-time novelist, Rachel Cosgrove.
Snow's original manuscript for this book was perhaps 40% longer than the published version; the editors at Reilly & Lee asked for cuts. Snow's original Chapters 7 and 8 were published as "The Crystal People" in The Baum Bugle, and reprinted in The Best of the Baum Bugle for 1967–69. Another portion of Snow's original, which has been called "Into the Cave," has never been published.
|The final "Famous Forty" Oz books|