I know that I said last week that I was reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, and I still am, but I am also reading Grampa in Oz by Ruth Plumly Thompson and illustrated by John R. Neill. This is the eighteenth official book in the Oz series and the fourth one by Thompson, who took over the series after Baum’s death.
I’m not as fond of Thompson’s Oz as I am of Baum’s, but she does keep some of the crazy charm and her books tend to continue the tradition of focusing on adventures that wind through the seemingly endless small communities that dot the landscape of Oz. In this one, the adventure is being had by Prince Tatters, Grampa (an old soldier), and a weather vane cock who has come to life. In theory, they are trying to find Tatter’s father’s head (which was lost) and perhaps a princess and fortune for the prince himself.
The need for a fortune is odd in Oz and I’m not sure how to reconcile it with the otherwise money-less kingdom, but it is very in keeping with the traditional European fairy tales that Thompson took so much as her inspiration (certainly more than Baum did). Tatters is hardly the dashing Prince Charming, but he is sweet. He feels entirely too childish for a princess wife to me. Of course, while there are many princesses in Oz, few of them are beyond girlhood themselves, so perhaps that’s ok!
I don’t really find Grampa that engaging, but he is the familiar older man guide type that Oz stories are also full of. Still, I think I’d take Cap’n Bill or the Shaggy Man over Grampa any day! The weather cock is pretty entertaining, though. And illustrates that despite the spell Glinda used to cut Oz off from the mundane world ages ago, things are still making their way to the fairy kingdom from the United States!