Monday, August 15, 2016


By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of The Lost King of Oz, Ozoplaning with the Wizard in Oz, and The Wish Express, etc.

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, June 22, 1919.

Here is a story that’s true as true
Of a pink flamingo who felt dark blue!
For this pink flamingo bird had got
His long, long neck in a hard, hard knot.

The bad little fishes splashed in a row
And watched the pink flamingo GO—
“We’re safe as long as that knot stays tied,
You cannot eat us now—old dear,” they cried.

Not only blue he felt—but hollow,
With a knot tied in his neck—how could he swallow?
So he picked up his long, long legs—and ran
To his uncle Peter Pelican!

The flamingo heard and muttered as he ran,
“If any one can help me Peter Pelican CAN!”
Peter Pelican tried—but he couldn’t—worse luck,
So he sent him off to a Doctor Duck.

Doctor Duck looked close—“Sir, I diagnose
Your case as a sailor’s knot—I suppose
A sailor must untie it!” Off the pink bird ran
Till at last he came up with a sailor man—

He made a bow and he said a lot
In flamingo-ese—about the knot.
Tho’ the sailor didn’t quite understand the lingo,
He untied the knot for the pink flamingo!
                  (And that’s about all.)

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, August 22, 1920.


Puzzles Out of the Jungle Box

The warmer the weather becomes the more nonsense the Forgetful Poet seems to think up. He said no wonder, with a pen that was out of its mind, and when I asked him what he meant he said: “It was, from constant doses of ink, quite dippy.”

Then he wanted to know why there was always a jam on the pantry shelf, and when I threatened him with the letter opener he retired chuckling. And when he had gone I found these riddles on my desk:

Why are lead pencils like little girls?

Who are the youngest people in the shoe closet?

Can you finish these verses:

There once was a queer Crustacean,
Who lived in the blue -----?
He swam to and fro and for all that I -----
He made verses in ancient Chaldean!

Last week’s answers were: Cotton wood tree, red wood, ash, beach, peach and locusts.

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2016 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Friday, July 15, 2016


By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of Handy Mandy in Oz, Ozoplaning with the Wizard in Oz, and The Wish Express, etc.

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, June 22, 1919.

Thor—the Great God of the North—who lived long and long ago, had many enemies among the Giant Folk. The giants of the Mountains and of the Forest were always seeking a way to get possession of Thor’s famous hammer—which none of them could withstand and without which Thor would have easily fallen into their power.

Once in a mysterious manner Thrym, one of the most powerful of the giants, stole the famous hammer and buried it deep, deep under the Kingdom of Jotunheim, which is the giants’ country. Thor sent Loki—another of the North Gods—to see whether or not the giant might not negotiate for its return. Thrym said that he was quite willing to send back the hammer on condition that Freya, Queen of Valhalla, become his bride. Freya had no desire to live with the Frost Giant King, and Thor was in a great quandary as to how he might regain his precious hammer.

Finally Loki suggest that Thor dress in Freya’s clothes and go to the Frost Giant’s palace himself as the bride. Heavily veiled Thor and Loki presented themselves at the giant’s castle and were warmly welcomed by the giant, who thought he had won the beautiful goddess for his wife. A great feast was prepared in their honor, but what was the amazement of Thrym when he beheld his bride devour a whole ox, eight salmon and a host of other delicacies, washing down the whole with three tons of mead.

He expressed his astonishment to Loki, who assured him that the bride had eaten nothing for eight days, so excited was she at the honor of becoming his wife. Flattered and pleased Thrym tried to push aside Freya’s veil, but started back in terror at the glistening eyes that confronted him. Again he appealed to Loki. Loki told him that the bride had not slept for eight nights, and the giant, quite satisfied, ordered the hammer to be brought and placed in the maiden’s lap.

No sooner did Thor feel his mighty hammer than he cast off his disguise and laid about him right and left, destroying Thrym and all of his retainers.

Once upon a time Thor set out on a journey to the giants’ country, accompanied by Loki and one servant. By nightfall they had reached an immense forest, so they searched on all sides to find a place to sleep. At last they came to what appeared to be a strange gray building, the like of which they had never seen before. Indeed, it was most curiously constructed. It was too dark to seek further, so they decided to take shelter inside in spite of its peculiar appearance.

About 12 o’clock they were awakened by a terrible earthquake, which tossed them about in the chamber of the building like so many loose pebbles. Thor’s two companions rushed into an adjoining chamber, but Thor stood in the huge doorway holding his hammer in readiness for whatever happened. But nothing else did happen, so they retired and disposed themselves for sleep. In several hours they were again awakened, this time by fearful groans, which rumbled in as loud tones as the thunder itself. Feeling that the daytime was best for investigating the cause of so great a disturbance, the three spent the rest of the night wide awake and issued forth at dawn in no small state of trepidation.

Lying near at hand was the hugest giant they had ever seen, his snores shaking the whole forest and causing the sounds they had taken for groans. So formidable appeared the giant that even Thor stood back and was afraid to try his mighty hammer. Just then the giant wakened up, and taking his courage in both hands Thor asked him his name. The giant appeared to be in an excellent humor and answered quite pleasantly that his name was Skrymir. “And YOU are the god Thor,” he announced, stretching. “But where is my glove?” He looked around carelessly, then snatched the building where Thor and his companions had passed the night and drew it on. Thor was not a little put out to think he had slept in the giant’s glove. As for the giant, he invited the three to accompany him to his castle, which they did and had many more strange adventures, which, perhaps, some day I shall tell you.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, August 15, 1920. 
Puzzle Corner

The Forgetful Poet still runs to rhymes. The missing creatures are not hard to find. What bird does he mean?

There once was a -----
In a water-proof suit
And the silly old waterfowl
Thought he looked -----

Why is an arithmetic book better furnished than other school books?

Three bodies of water are concealed in this verse. They may not be spelled exactly right, but they sound right:

Oh, when I don my swallow tail
I’m really quite superior,
But my old business suit’s more sane,
And really makes me cheerier!

[Answers next time.] 
Copyright © 2016 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Friday, July 1, 2016


By L. Frank Baum
Author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Boy Fortune Hunters in the Yucatan, Daughters of Destiny, etc.

Originally published in the Quincy Daily Herald, April 14, 1903. This newspaper article by an unnamed reporter contains a verse by L. Frank Baum in response to an elaborate gift from Baum's friend George Stahl, resident of Quincy, Illinois.

George H. Stahl sent an Easter surprise by express to Frank Baum, author of “Father Goose” and the “Wizard of Oz,” who spent part of last summer in Quincy. He got three handsome Leghorn chickens and dyed one a brilliant purple, another a vivid red and the third a bright green. He had a coop especially made for them and in one corner fixed up a nest filled with fancifully dyed Easter eggs. The only inscription on the box was “Father Goose, Hiz Burds,” yet it was delivered at Mr. Baum’s home in Chicago bright and early Easter morning. Mr. Stahl knows they were delivered properly because yesterday he received the following poetic message by wire from Chicago:

The chicks are here in all their pride—
The purple, red, and green;
And though alive they are all “died”
The slickest ever seen.

So all the flock of Father Goose
Return your Easter greeting,
We’ll put your gorgeous gift to use—
If it is fit for eating.

Peace, love, and happiness be thine
Throughout the coming year;
We’ll drink your health in sparkling wine—
As we are out of beer.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, August 8, 1920.

Puzzle Corner

The Forgetful Poet was in a great hurry this week and he really didn’t have time to write out any new puzzles. He dashed into the office and breathlessly gave me the answers to last week’s, which are:

If a barrel laughed would it give a hoop?
How many sous in a bowl of soup?
What have a tree, a ship and a dog in common? A bark.

The foolish old manatee
Was known far and wide for her vanity,
She was ugly and fat, but she didn’t know that
And was proud to the point of insanity.

As he disappeared out of the door I heard him say, “I’m off to the shore and maybe I’ll visit the mountains before I get back.” So I know he is taking a vacation.

Copyright © 2016 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of The Purple Prince of Oz, Ozoplaning with the Wizard in Oz, and The Wish Express, etc.

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, April 6, 1919.

There was once an old gentleman mouse who played the fiddle and who was much in demand for parties, weddings and other entertainments in Mousedom. There are not very many musicians among the mice and poor Uncle Mumbledy was worked pretty hard. He was getting old too and rheumatic, and used sometimes to long for a quiet evening at home.

During the daytime he had scholars, and what with teaching and scales all day and fiddling and calling out dances (the mice are great for square dances) half the night, the poor old fellow was just worn out.

He often tried to think of a way out, but never seemed to be able to hit upon a plan. The young mice insisted that no dance music was like his, and refused to engage any of his scholars.

Then one day he made a wonderful discovery, which he kept all to himself. On his way home from a strawberry festival he was attracted by the sounds of sweet music. He stepped cautiously out of hole in the wall into the drawing room of a great house.

“Mousealive!” gasped Uncle Mumbledy. And no wonder, for it was the first time he had ever heard of music coming out of a box. You see, he had lived all his life in the attic of this very same house and not until this very evening had the strange new magic box been bought. All of his neighbors lived in the attic, too, and none of them had ever seen such a marvellous invention, of that he was very sure. At first he was going to run back and break the news to them as fast as he could. Then, he decided to wait and see how it was done.

Very quietly he tiptoed over to that part of the room where the music was coming from. Nobody saw him or heard him, so he ran quickly up the back of a big easy chair and perched on the top. Never had he heard such a concert. Growing more bold he stretched out at his ease and watched sharply everything that went on.

Then he took out a little memorandum and jotted down: “First, wind (this will be difficult); second, adjust needle; third, pull lever; fourth, shut off lever!” He put the memorandum in his pocket and gave himself up to pure enjoyment. He watched the mode of dancing practised by the humans with no small amazement. Then, perhaps because he was very tired or because the music was so soothing, he fell fast asleep. When he wakened it was 8 o’clock and the maid was already flourishing a feather duster. With a squeak of alarm he ran off to the garret.

He wished to keep the secret for the coming-out party of his favorite niece. He chuckled over the sensation it would cause and spent much time on the invitations. The parents of the little mouse were much surprised when Uncle Mumbledy suggested that the coming-out party be given in the drawing-room of the big house. But, as he was to furnish the music and refreshments, they readily agreed.

As 12 o’clock, on the evening of this happy occasion, the guests began to arrive in the drawing room, with bouquets of forget-me-nots, lady slippers and other tiny and appropriate mousy bouquets. Uncle Mumbledy was here and there and everywhere, welcoming and chatting, but everybody remarked upon a strange thing. He had not brought his fiddle. As the time for the dancing drew on and a part of the drawing room table was cleared for the purpose, their astonishment grew. Then came the surprise of the evening and the triumph of Uncle Mumbledy’s life. He ran hurriedly up the cabinet of a new and puzzling piece of furniture. Fortunately it was open, and a record in place. Pulling the lever hard and letting down the needle he started the talking machine, and not a step could a mouse take for sheer astonishment.

Then Uncle Mumbledy explained it as best he could and started off himself with a fat old lady mouse, and soon all the mice were dancing for dear life. Never had they heard such music nor experienced such pleasure. When the record was over and Uncle Mumbledy hastily ran up to turn it off, they clapped and clapped and nothing would do but to play it all over again. By that time it had run down, and all of the gentlemen mice together swung on the handle, and, after many accidents and rumbles, managed to wind it up again.

There were several records lying about. Putting on his specs Uncle Mumbledy picked out a familiar dance tune. Removing the old record and adjusting the new was no mean task, but the little creatures persevered and finally succeeded. Uncle Mumbledy, who had never had an opportunity to dance before (being always forced to fiddle), enjoyed himself hugely; in fact, never had a mouse party been so successful.

Toward the end of the evening they discovered another delightful use for the instrument. They turned it on without letting down the needle, the result being a perfect mouse merry-go-round.

Finally the noise attracted the master of the house.

“I could swear I hear music!” he murmured getting sleepily out of bed. At the first sound of his foot upon the stairs Uncle Mumbledy turned out all the little mice lanterns and, next minute, giggling and whispering, the party broke up. But many, many times they came back to enjoy a concert or dance, and many and many a morning the housemaid would wonder who left the records scattered about. I wonder if they ever dance to your talking machine?

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, August 1, 1920.

The Puzzle Corner

“Whew!” groaned the Forgetful Poet, slinking down in an office chair, “it’s bad enough to make puzzles in winter—but now! Whew! Don’t believe the boys and girls could guess ’em anyway!”

I gave him a glass of water and told him that I thought you could and that you didn’t mind hot weather like poets do. So he took a stub pencil and got to work and after a great deal of scribbling this is what he handed to me:

If a barrel laughed, would it give a -----?
How many sous in a bowl of -----?
What have a tree, a ship and a dog in common?


There once was a foolish old manatee,
Who was known far and wide for her -----,
She was ugly and fat, but she didn’t know that,
And was proud to the point of -----.

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2016 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Sunday, May 15, 2016


By Eloise Jarvis McGraw
Author of The Rundelstone of Oz, Merry Go Round in Oz, The Forbidden Fountain of Oz, The Moorchild, etc.

Originally published under her maiden name Eloise Alton Jarvis in the 1932 Yearbook of Classen High School, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Out of the blurred past
Comes reality
And sudden clearness, like the smooth green, foamless wave
Riding to break white upon the shore.
And now my careless years
Are close upon the frowning rocks
Where they must pound and strive incessantly.
But these hazy years, traversed so blindly,
Have yet a tale to tell—a prize to show:
They have taught me how to hurl upon the crags
Receiving least hurt—most gain!
Some day the rocks will have worn away
Under the silver crashing of an eternity of breakers.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, July 25, 1920.

The Puzzle Corner

The Forgetful Poet answers last week’s puzzles as follows:

The missing word in the rhyme is “Puffin,” and a house is like a book because it is make up of stories.

The two letters of the alphabet which make a word meaning to surpass are X and L, but you must spell them out so that they will read excel.

Copyright © 2016 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Friday, April 15, 2016


By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Author of The Lost King of Oz, Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz, The Wish Express, "King, King! Double King!" etc.
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, March 16, 1919,

It was time the Princess Slimgrace was married; so King Hadalongname had decided; but there was one trouble—that was, to find something difficult for the young princes to accomplish as a test of their love and worthiness. The King thought and thought, but every time he seemed about to decide on some suitable feat, he fell asleep. It was very provoking when such an important matter was at stake.

Finally the King called the Prime Minister of the Private Affairs of the Palace, who looked very wise as he came into the King’s chamber, carrying several huge folios. “Your Majesty,” he began, bowing as low as his weighty burden would permit, “has summoned his most humble servant, I believe.” Here he paused, and after another bow took the seat to which the King pointed, then carefully wiped and adjusted his glasses.

After patiently waiting for these preliminaries to be finished, the King replied: “My dear Prime Minister, it is time the Princess Slimgrace was married.”

“Yes, most benign Sovereign,” returned the stately minister, “I was remarking the same thing to the Chief Barber and the Chief Shoe Buttoner just the other day.”

“Well, then,” continued the King, “what shall be decided upon for a fitting suitor’s contest?”

“Your Majesty, I find in this little book,” said the Minister opening one of his immense volumes, “numerous trials of love.”

“Read them,” commanded King Hadalongname.

“Killing a lion, slaying a giant, breaking iron gates—”

“Hold!” shouted the King. “These are all out of date. Haven’t you something more recent?”

“I regret deeply that I have not the pleasure of knowing anything modern,” answered the crestfallen minister, meekly.

“Then leave!” roared the King. The counsellor obeyed hastily, for by this time his majesty was in anything but an agreeable frame of mind.

And it was quite natural that he should feel extremely annoyed when his most trusted adviser showed such complete ignorance on this important subject. ‘Wild beasts to be killed! Wild fiddlesticks! There aren’t any but tame animals around anyway, and how should I know a suitor really killed a beast if I didn’t see him do it?”

Having delivered this convincing argument, the King ordered that all his chiefs, except the one just dismissed, should be summoned to assist him in his decision.

When they had all assembled he laid the matter before them, asking their opinions.

The Chief Barber thought eating a razor a trying little task, while the Chief Purveyor of Brushes judged the Prince who could count the bristles in 1000 brushes the most quickly would be the best successor to the King. The Chief Mathematician agreed to the latter suggestion, but the King was not pleased with either, and was beginning to scowl in a fearfully ferocious way when the Chief Cook spoke up.

“Your Majesty,” he said, “what could be more difficult than to get up a dinner with almost nothing to use and no money to buy anything, or none to speak of—say, a sixpence,” as he felt one in his pocket. “Then,” as he thought of his rye muffins which he had left in the oven, “a pocketful of rye, for instance.” And as a blackbird alighted in a tree near the window and began to chatter to its mate in its saucy way, he added: “Four and twenty blackbirds. Surely if anyone can do this he must have had a wise mother, and having had a wise mother, he will be likely to make a good husband.”

So much knowledge, and especially this last bit of wisdom, delighted the King, who ordered that the Cook should be made Chief Philosopher, and that the lovers’ contest should be announced in all the neighboring countries.

Few suitors came, for some had never handled so small a sum as a sixpence, others knew nothing about cooking and were too lazy to learn, and all were agreed that the feat was too difficult to attempt, even to obtain the hand of such a rich and beautiful young lady as the Princess Slimgrace. All were agreed, that is, all save one, Prince Lovliboy. He was not daunted in the least by the hard conditions separating him from his lady-love; for he and the Princess were old friends and were deeply in love with each other.

So he came to King Hadalongname’s palace, where he was to get up the dinner. Every day he laid snares for blackbirds until he had twenty-four. He then made a dough of rye and water, flavored with such spices as he could get for a sixpence. Into a pudding-dish he put this mixture, cooked it brown, then cut off the top, and slipped the birds in, and fastened the top on with bits of dough he had left for that purpose.

The time for the important dinner arrived at last. The Queen, who was exceedingly fond of bread and honey, finding that the Prince had not provided either of these articles of food, stayed out in the pantry, where she might indulge in them to her heart’s content. So there were only the Princess, the King and the Prince at the dinner. The great dish was set before the King. What was his surprise to see a flock of blackbirds fly out of it as he began to serve it.

He declared the Prince had won the Princess (to tell the truth, he wanted that Prince for his heir and successor), and went off to his counting-room to count his money to see how much he could give for the Princess’ dowry. The happy lovers went about the palace to be congratulated, but came across one poor maid who refused to share the general joyful feeling, for, said she, “While I was hanging out the clothes, one of those hateful little blackbirds snipped off my nose.”

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, July 18, 1920.

Puzzle Corner

Last week’s verse, properly completed should read

There once was silly old Auk
Who loved dearly to lecture and talk—
The seals fell asleep
When the subjects grew deep,
The away the old fellow would stalk!

The bird was a toucan.

See what you can make of this:


A second cousin to the Auk—
A diving bird’s the -----
He’s fond of tea and relishes
The wild strawberry muffin!

Why is a house like a book?

With two letters of the alphabet you can make a word of two syllables meaning to surpass.

[Answers next time.] 

Copyright © 2016 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Friday, April 1, 2016


By L. Frank Baum
Author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Boy Fortune Hunters in the Yucatan, Daughters of Destiny, etc.
Originally published in the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer, February 22, 1890.

“I suppose,” said the landlady, furtively eyeing an ink-stain on the carpet and smoothing the ample wrinkles out of her ample gown with her ample hands, “I suppose, gentlemen, as you’re all good ‘Piskipalians.”

The doctor colored, and answered, “I frequently attend that church, and—yes, I may say that I am an Episcopalian.”

“Ever sense that Jumper sociable!” remarked the landlady, sarcastically.

“I myself feel strongly drawn to that excellent—would you call it religion? Or sect? Or—“

“Call it the Guilded Clique!” chuckled the landlady, to the Colonel’s no small confusion.

“And Tom—“

“I was brought up in the tenets of the church,” replied that languid young man. “I don’t know what the tenets were, but I was brought up in ‘em.”

“Then they was probably red flannels an’ diapers,” answered the landlady, absent-mindedly, while Tom turned to the photograph of Susan B. to enable him to regain his self-possession. For poor Susan has always possessed herself.

“Therefore,” says the landlady, with a smile of satisfaction, “you are all ‘Piskiples. Of course you’ll keep lent.”

The boarders looked at each other in surprise and uneasiness.

“I think I shall deny myself something,” remarked the colonel; “I shall either smoke nickle cigars instead of imported ones or take to a pipe. I haven’t dicided which.”

“And I,” said the doctor, cheerfully, “shall economise on horse feed. My mare has really had too liberal an allowance of oats lately. What shall you do, Tom?” and they all looked curiously at the dyed-in-the-wool Episcopalian.

“Oh, there is one course of denial which I always follow,” says this interesting youth. “I deny myself postage stamps and write to all my friends on postals. It’s inconvenient, ye know, but the lenten season must be duly observed.”

The landlady smiled an Act III, Scene III smile, for the climax was approaching, and led them without a word to the dinner table.

“Mrs. Bilkins,” said the colonel, when all were seated. “I am a little rushed today, as I have a client awaiting my return to renew a note. Please fetch on the dinner.”

“The dinner,” replied the landlady, trying to repress a fiendish look of triumph, “is on. This is ash We’nsday. Most landladys who has ‘Piskiple boarders has nothin’ but ashes for to eat today, but I ain’t that sort. Good ‘Piskiples, as ‘tends the Guild socials so reglar, mustn’t be starved, altho’ they should be incouraged in them tenements o’ the church as Mr. Tom were brought up in. So I’ve got some nice mush an’ milk for you, and if your conscience don’t prick you,--fall to an’ eat hearty!”

The boarders were conquered. They turned their hollow eyes and mouths and pink suffused brows upon the mush, and naught save the rattle of the spoons against the bowls broke the ominous silence which was the only thing that had reigned in Aberdeen since winter set in.

“I once knew a woman,” remarked the colonel at last, spitefully, “so mean that she put holes in her fried-cakes to economise.”

“Did she die a horrible death?” asked Tom.

“She did.”

The landlady was unmoved.

“And an old woman with whom I boarded chopped her hash so fine that she had to press the atmosphere over the platter to keep it from floating in the air.”

“That was in lent,” beamed the landlady, good-naturedly.

Here the doctor distinguished himself.

“One good thing about this season,” said he, “is that boarding house keepers never ask you for any money, because they know it’s lent!”

Mrs. Bilkins turned pale, and left the room abruptly, while the boarders made the best of their meagre fare and started for town in a brighter mood.

The landlady looked after them through the crack in the kitchen door.

“It’ll be a heap o’ savin’ just now, this lent business; but I’m afeared,” with a sigh that came from the darns on the heels of her socks, “I’m afeared they’ll more n’ make it up at Yeaster!” 

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, July 11, 1920. 
Puzzle Corner

You all seemed to know what was wrong with the dear chap’s verses last week and the animal referred to in his last poem was a bear. This week he would like you to finish this

Aukish Poem

There once was silly old Auk
Who loved dearly to lecture and -----?
The seals fell asleep
When the subjects grew -----?
The away the old fellow would -----?

And what bird is made up from a figure and an airtight container for food?

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2016 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.