Handy Mandy in Oz
|Handy Mandy in Oz|
|Cover of Handy Mandy in Oz.|
|Author||Ruth Plumly Thompson|
|Illustrator||John R. Neill|
|Cover artist||John R. Neill|
|Series||The Oz Books|
|Publisher||Reilly & Lee|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover)|
The book's heroine is an "honest and industrious" goat-girl named Mandy, who grazes her flock on the slopes of Mt. Mern (a location otherwise unidentified).
The story opens with a bang and a splash: an underground spring erupts in a geyser that blasts Mandy into the sky. The force propels her across the Deadly Desert to Oz; she lands in the little principality of Keretaria in the Munchkin Country, her impact cushioned by the influence of a magic blue daisy. Mandy finds a silver hammer, and meets a white ox with golden horns; she blunders into the court of King Kerr and his courtiers. They are outraged by the intrusion of such an outlandish figure — for Mandy has seven arms and hands. As Mandy explains,
- "This iron hand...I use for ironing, lifting hot pots from the stove and all horrid sort of hard work; this leather hand I keep for beating rugs, dusting, sweeping, and so on; this wooden hand I use for churning and digging in the garden; these two red rubber hands for dishwashing and scrubbing, and my two fine white hands I keep for holding and braiding by hair."
Mandy, for her part, is amazed to meet so many two-handed people; on Mt. Mern, everyone has seven hands.
Mandy is reprieved from the dungeons by Nox the Royal Ox, who takes her as his "slave." It is a benign sort of slavery; Mandy and Nox quickly become friends. (It is Nox who gives the girl her nickname, Handy Mandy.) Nox is preoccupied by the political situation of Keretaria: the rightful king, a boy named Kerry, has disappeared, and his throne has been usurped by his uncle Kerr. The Royal Ox is an unusual creature: his right horn grants wishes, and his left horn offers clues. When a clue indicates that King Kerry can be found at a place called the Silver Mountain, the enterprising Mandy leads Nox on a search for the missing monarch.
They swim rivers (Mandy can't swim) and survive a flood on their way to the Gillikin Country. A doorway hidden under a waterfall leads them to a subterranean world within Silver Mountain, a fantastic place of silver filigree lit by glowing amethysts. The domain is ruled by an evil and ambitious tyrant called the Wizard of Wutz. His throne sits in a pool of mercury, bordered by lavender sands. Wutz is plotting to steal all the main magical artifacts of Oz, including the Magic Picture and Glinda's Great Book of Records, in order to conquer the land. As part of this plan, he keeps Kerry prisoner, and has obtained the jug that is the confinement vessel of Ruggedo, the Gnome King (he was transformed into a jug at the end of Pirates in Oz).
The Wizard of Wutz's machinations have of course attracted the notice of Princess Ozma, the Wizard of Oz, Princess Dorothy, the Scarecrow, and their friends and allies. Yet their efforts to solve their difficulties are inhibited, since they lack the Magic Picture and Book of Records.
When Mandy and Nox confront the Wizard of Wutz, he imprisons them in the depths of his realm. Mandy accidentally liberates Ruggedo from the jug, merely by breaking it. The Wizard of Wutz and Ruggedo instantly become allies in evil (though deeply mistrustful ones), and set off for the Emerald City to complete their conquest. Mandy's silver hammer, though, has proven to be magic; striking it calls forth a helpful purple elf. With the hammer and elf, the blue daisy, and Nox's horns, Mandy and the ox escape confinement, find and rescue King Kerry, and reach Ozma's palace in time to frustrate the plans of Wutz and Ruggedo. Himself the elf transforms the two villains into potted cacti. (This is the last appearance of Ruggedo the Gnome King in the "Famous Forty" Oz books, though he does re-appear in the works of later Oz authors.)
Ozma restores order and repairs damage with her Magic Belt. Wutz's spies and agents are transformed into moles; Kerry is returned to his throne. Mandy is rewarded with an emerald necklace and a luxury she has longed for — gloves; Ozma gives her seven sets of seven gloves for her seven hands. After a month at home on Mt. Mern, Mandy returns to Oz (with her goats) via wishing pill, for a new life.
The plot of this book strongly resembles that of Baum's The Lost Princess of Oz, in which Ugu the shoemaker steals magical artifacts and kidnaps a ruler in a conquest plot, just like the Wizard of Wutz. Indeed, Trot comments on the plot resemblance in Chapter 14 of Handy Mandy.
Thompson's character creations are not always highly imaginative: a medieval knight (Sir Hokus of Pokes in The Royal Book of Oz), a circus elephant (Kabumpo in Kabumpo in Oz), and an animated statue (the Public Benfactor in The Giant Horse of Oz) fall below the level of Baum's greatest grotesques. In Handy Mandy, however, she created a unique figure. The character taxed the illustrative abilities of John Neill, though he is fairly consistent in giving Mandy three left hands and four rights.
Thompson later wrote a 48-line poem that provides an origin for Mandy, though this origin is inconsistent with the novel. In the poem, Mandy is an artificial and created being, made of "wood and tin...wire and cloth and plaster...." She was built as a sort of domestic robot to perform housework. The novel, in contrast, clearly indicates that Mandy, despite her inanimate parts, comes from a race of seven-handed people.
The principle villain, the Wizard Wutz, is another unusual character for Oz: a handsome, smooth, graceful but pure-evil villain who commands a hierarchical organization of subversives, with planted spies in positions of power all over the land of Oz, and a systematic collective strategy for overthrowing the government.
Ruggedo the Gnome King makes his last appearance in the Oz-Canon of Forty here. It's very small, barely more than a cameo. He begins having been transformed into a jug (see Pirates in Oz) and ends transformed into a cactus.
|The Oz books|
Captain Salt in Oz
|Handy Mandy in Oz
The Silver Princess in Oz