The Giant Horse of Oz

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The Giant Horse of Oz
220px Cover of The Giant Horse of Oz.
Author Ruth Plumly Thompson
Illustrator John R. Neill
Country United States
Language English
Series The Oz books
Genre Children's novel
Publisher Reilly & Lee
Publication date
1928
Media type Print (Hardcover)
Preceded by The Gnome King of Oz
Followed by Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz

The Giant Horse of Oz (1928) is the twenty-second in the series of Oz books created by L. Frank Baum and his successors, and the eighth written by Ruth Plumly Thompson. It was Illustrated by John R. Neill.

The plot[edit]

The tiny kingdom of the Ozure Isles is the Kashmir or Shangri-La of Oz; perched on five islands in Lake Orizon, surrounded by high mountains in a remote region of Munchkin Land, it has little contact with the outside world—of Oz, that is. The beaches are not sand but gemstones; the people travel between their islands not by boat, but by seahorse. Or they used to, before the evil witch Mombi turned her malice in the Ozure direction. After kidnapping Queen Orin, Mombi left a fire-breathing lake monster named Quiberon in Lake Orizon to keep the natives prisoner.[1] Even after Mombi is vanquished, the isolated Ozurites remain oppressed.

Conditions grow worse when the quixotic Quiberon demands a mortal maiden. Since Oz is a fairyland, the only mortal maidens are three American girls living in the Emerald City: Dorothy Gale, Betsy Bobbin, and Tiny Trot.[2] Two Ozurites respond to the crisis in two separate ways. The heroic Prince Philador escapes from the islands to seek the aid of Tattypoo, the Good Witch of the North. The unheroic Akbad, the Ozure Isles soothsayer, pursues an appeasement policy in a novel way: with a pair of magic wings he flies to the Emerald City and kidnaps Trot. (She, the heroine of L. Frank Baum's Sky Island and The Sea Fairies, reached Oz in Baum's The Scarecrow of Oz.) Being a neophyte kidnapper, Akbad overdoes it, and accidentally kidnaps the Scarecrow and an animated statue called Benny (short for "public benefactor") along with his primary target.[3]

In his search for Tattypoo, Prince Philador teams up with High Boy, a giant horse with telescoping legs, and Herby the Medicine Man, an eighteenth-century doctor with a medicine chest in his own chest due to an incomplete disenchantment.[4] Various adventures ensue, in strange locations like Cave City, and with even stranger beings like the Roundabouties and Shutterfaces. Eventually, matters are sorted out satisfactorily: the Wizard turns Quiberon into a great bronze and silver statue, and the good Witch Tattypoo is revealed to be the missing and amnesiac Queen Orin. She is restored to her family and kingdom. Trot becomes a princess of the Ozure Isles, welcome in their Sapphire City whenever she chooses to visit.

The message[edit]

Thompson wrote primarily to entertain her young readers, with no overt message, moral, homily, or didactic purpose. Yet the Oz literature does have its own underlying message, which is expressed more plainly in The Giant Horse of Oz than in other Oz books.

Trot, the Scarecrow, and Benny suffer through their encounters with the shadow people of Cave City, who try to turn them into shadows, and the Roundabouties, who try to turn them into Roundabouties. Afterward, Benny ruefully observes, "Everyone wishes to make us into a being like himself." To which the Scarecrow replies, "A fault you will find with people everywhere, even in your own world.... Everybody thinks his way is the right way." (Chapter 13)

Yet the regime of Princess Ozma in the Emerald City is the antidote to that coercive impulse. Consider the fate of Benny, the animated statue. When he comes alive in Boston, he is chased through the streets by a mob and pelted with sticks, stones, and bricks. However, when he reaches Oz and falls in with people from the Emerald City, he is welcomed and accepted for what he is. His admirable character and good actions win him approval and friendship at the highest levels of society.

Like other writers of previous generations, Thompson and Baum are now sometimes criticized for failing to meet contemporary standards of political correctness. The Oz literature they created, however, is fundamentally a literature of individuality, diversity, tolerance, and inclusivity.[original research?]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jack Snow, Who's Who in Oz, Chicago, Reilly & Lee, 1954; New York, Peter Bedrick Books, 1988; pp. 139, 149, 172.
  2. ^ Who's Who in Oz, pp. 16, 58-9, 221.
  3. ^ Who's Who in Oz, pp. 6, 15, 160-1, 209.
  4. ^ Who's Who in Oz, pp. 92-3.

External links[edit]

The Oz books
Previous book:
The Gnome King of Oz
The Giant Horse of Oz
1928
Next book:
Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz