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Yankee in Oz

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Written by  Ruth Plumly Thompson
Illustrator  Dick Martin
Published  1972
Publisher  The International Wizard of Oz Club

Yankee in Oz is a book taking place in the Land of Oz and written by Ruth Plumly Thompson. It is not considered one of the "Famous Forty" since it was not published by Reilly & Lee, although its author was a former Royal Historian of Oz.


Thomas P. Terry, nicknamed Tompy, is an eleven-year-old boy from Pennwell, Pennsylvania. He plays the drum in a marching band. Just before the local Labor Day parade, a hurricane strikes the town, blowing Tompy and his drum into the air for a tempestuous journey. He lands in the yellow landscape of the northern Winkie Country in the Land of Oz.

His first encounter is with another new arrival: Yankee is a space dog, the occupant of a capsule that has orbited the Moon. The capsule has come down far from its intended landing zone. Yankee quickly discovers that he can now talk. The two strangers set out to learn where they are.

In the nearby town of Wackajammy, they hear they are in Oz, and also that they are destined to rescue the local missing princess. They meet the artificial denizens of Tidy Town, and an idyllic community of "Lanternese" people who have Chinese paper lanterns for heads. Tompy's drum comes in handy on several occasions. On Upandup Mountain in the Gillikin Country, the American boy and dog befriend Jinnicky the Red Jinn; they also confront a malevolent giant called Badmannah the Terrible.

Badmannah has a magic fishnet, with which he fishes for treasure and captives from the lands below. The heroes rescue his current captive, who turns out to be the missing princess from Wackajammy; but Badmannah uses his net to scoop up the entire "castle" of Princess Ozma, with all its famous occupants, from the Emerald City. Jinnicky must use all of his magical resources to counter Badmannah's outrageous action. At the climax of their conflict, Yankee grabs the villain's magic net in his teeth, and Tompy drops it over the giant. Once Badmannah is quelled with his own magic, Jinnicky can sink him to the bottom of the Nonestic Ocean.

Tompy and Yankee are the saviors of Oz, and are welcomed by Ozma and her freed subjects. They are sent home to America with thanks. With a little leftover magic from Jinnicky, Tompy gets to keep Yankee as his pet, and Yankee preserves his ability to talk for one hour a day.


Yankee in Oz is the sixth of Thompson's Oz books named after an animal — a habit that none of the other Royal Historians of Oz share (though the McGraws named their Merry Go Round in Oz after a magically-animated carousel horse).

Thompson wrote Yankee in Oz in 1959, but found no market and no publisher for another Oz book. In her story, Tompy is blown to Oz by "Hurricane Hannah." There was an actual storm of that name in 1959, though it was confined to the Atlantic Ocean and never struck land. Tompy and Yankee talk in the slang of the period, saying things like "Man, that's crazy!" And the use of animals in space exploration was a conspicuous feature of the late 1950s and early 1960s. References to space flight, "cold light," and other aspects of American technology circa 1960 occur. When Jinnicky learns of Yankee's orbit of the Moon, he is astounded, and asks, "What magic did he use?" To which Tompy answers, "The know-how and magic of American science" (Chapter 10). Later, Ozma is similarly awed (Chapter 17).

The leader of the "Lanternese" people in Chapter 8 is called Flicker. Eric Shanower uses the same name for a different character of his own devising, in his graphic novel The Ice King of Oz (1987) and his short story "Dorothy and the Mushroom Queen" (1996).

Yankee in Oz was first published by The International Wizard of Oz Club in 1972, with illustrations by Dick Martin and maps by James E. Haff. That first edition, and a second of 1986, were printed in the larger, 8½-by-11-inch format used for some of the Club's publications of the era. A third edition of 2007 returns to the standard size of previous Oz books.

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