Friday, March 18, 2005

Kabumpo in Oz

From the diary: “April 15, 1981

“I’m stuck on Kabumpo in Oz. Since we’ve been in Easter vacation I should get back to reading.”

Kabumpo is an elephant, one of new Oz author Ruth Plumly Thompson’s strongest originals. Thompson’s Oz is quite different from Baum’s. I didn’t like it at first. Thompson is much more about action and wordplay than the more leisurely Baum, and she favors boy protagonists (Baum’s were nearly all girls). But she can be funny and clever; her stories will plunge ahead ever anxious to keep moving.

On a grammar note: I always wondered why the title has Kabumpo in Oz when Kabumpo seems to be a native of Oz and is never anywhere but Oz. In the titles of most other Oz books when the individual is from or of Oz that’s reflected in the title, viz. Tik-Tok of Oz or Glinda of Oz. When a character isn’t a native but merely visiting they’re given the “in”, examples being Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz (this was before either had moved to Oz permanently, although the Wizard is invited to stay at the end of the story), Rinkitink in Oz (although, oddly, Rinkitink never actually sets foot in Oz so this may not be a particularly helpful example), and Pirates in Oz. Saying Kabumpo was in Oz, it’s always seemed to me, was redundant for where else would he be?

As an aside, I’ve pledged I shall never write a letter to the editor about such a trivial matter. Should I go to the trouble I shall address something worth the energy -- torture, say, or destruction of habitat.

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