Monday, January 1, 2018


By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of The Yellow Knight of Oz, Ozoplaning with the Wizard in Oz, and The Wish Express, etc.
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, November 1, 1914.

The day was fine and brisk and jolly
As Bobby Brown and his sister Polly
Set out with a bag and a huge box of lunch
To gather some chestnuts. “We’ll bring home a bunch!”
Cried Bob as he whistled a gay little tune.
They came to the woods, well, at just about noon.
I forgot to say that they lived away
Up North in Maine, where the pine trees sway
And where the—gracious, here I go!
Telling the wrong thing first, you know!
“It’s rather dark in these woods!” said Polly;
“Oh, no, it’s not; I think it’s jolly,”
Said Bob. “I’ll cut a great, big stick
And knock some chestnuts down real quick.”
His stick was thick—THICK as could be.
He hurled it with might in a chestnut tree!
Oh, then, my dears—as TRUE as TRUE—
A voice in the tree roared “OUCH! Oh, Oooooh!”
Head over heels with fright rolled Polly.
Bob’s knees quaked, too, and next thing—Golly!
Out of the tree looked a great, HUGE bear,
A bump on his eye most as big as a pear!
He started to climb down the tree. “Say, I’m
Gong to run,” gasped Bobby, “and run like TIME!”
Indeed, they stayed not a minute more,
But ran as never they’d run before.
“Oh, well,” called the bear, “if you really must
Be going I’ll open this box and just
Enjoy myself!” So crunchety munch
He ate up Bob’s and Polly’s lunch!

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, February 6, 1921.


The Forgetful Poet has gone to his cousin’s in Florida and never sent us a line, but I think I have answered his puzzles correctly. The musical terms were staff, scale, rest and flat. The words left out of the other verses were parrot and carrot.

All the blanks in these lines can be filled in with creatures.

Oh, -----, I’ve caught an awful cold,
Why, I can -----ly speak,
 I am so ----- I’ve had a -----
Down in my throat all week!

I went driving in a ----- cart,
And then I took a sail,
And went fishing in a ----- boat,
For a sardine or a ------.

[Answers next time.]

 Copyright © 2018 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Friday, December 1, 2017


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, December 20, 1890.

“This coffee,” remarked our landlady, as she poured out the colonel’s cup and adding the skim milk stirred it vigorously with her own spoon, - for she like the colonel; “this coffee is the Crushed Politician brand, an’ I bought it yisterday of a agent fer a quarter with a diamond necklace set in tin throwed in.”

“It tastes of crushed politician,” said Tom, moodily.

“Named after the republican county committee, probably,” added the doctor, sipping it warily.

“The necklace were worth a quarter any day,” declared our landlady, “an’ the agent said if the coffee weren’t good he’d refund the money. Now, Kurnel, tell me the solid artesian truth, is that ’air coffee any good?”

“Well,” replied the colonel, sadly, for he knew that a woman is ever sensitive about her coffee, “I believe that I’d get my money back – that is, if you ever expect to see him again – which you probably don’t.”

“No,” sighed Mrs. Bilkins, “I’m allus gittin’ fooled. It’s jest like the time I went to the Curmess, wich some feller said would a been a dog-gone mess if the cur had been left off; but I heered Tom say as there was goin’ to be a quart ’et an’ a quint ’et an’ I wanted to go an’ help eat ’em. But the lunch was pritty high fer the kind an’ there weren’t a quart of it altogether, much less a quint. But there! I ain’t got nothin’ to say agin’ the show, few these church doin’s is gen’ally wuth the money an’ goes to a good cause, - that is, the receipts nearly allus pay the expenses. When they don’t, them that’s worked the hardest has to put up the rest o’ the shuks, an’ imagine they’ll find their reward in Heving, where church sociables are at a bigger discount than Crusmus presents in a barber shop. Now I’ve got to work all my spare time to turn my lavender silk fer the Charity Ball, fer I wouldn’t miss it fer a farm. You’d have to go with me, Kurnel, fer it ain’t proper fer a lady to go alone, an’ you can borry George Cadwell’s swaller-tail, that he ain’t wore sence the prize fight. I hope Narre. will be there so’s I can jest grab him around the neck an’ swing him in a good old-fashioned waltz, fer Narre. is a great dancer an’ loves to spin.”

“It’s almost too warm for a dance,” said the colonel, with a troubled face.

“Well, it is rather summery. I got a letter from my brother in Oshkosh the other day, an’ he says in it, says he, ‘here you’ve been slavin’ fer six year in Dakoty an’ what have you got?’

“An’ I answered an’ says: ‘we’ve got the beautifullest weather in Ameriky,’ says I.

“ ‘Then,’ he writ back, ‘send me two barrels an’ a hogshead, for it’s so rainy an’ nasty here that I ain’t gone to the bank fer three days, an’ my money drawers is runnin’ over!’ That’s jest like my brother, he allus liked a joke. But speakin’ o’ jokes, a feller walked inter Salsberry’s yisterday an’ says, ‘hev you got a dairy fer sale?’ ‘No,’ says Skip, with a grin. ‘but Mr. Leavitt he’s got one he’d like to dispose of.’ O’ course the feller meant a writin’ cullender, but Skip is nothin’ if he ain’t funny. He’s goin’ down to Pierre this week to see if they won’t make him United States Senator. I’d ruther see Kernel Evans there, myself, but the town can’t hardly spare him. Well, Christmas is comin’ mighty quick now, an’ everybody’ll be jest as happy as if we was all Senators. The only thing that worries me is that all the stores is sellin’ for less nor cost an’ I expect we’ll have all the merchants on the town after New Years. But I s’pose it can’t be helped unless everyone insists on payin’ ’em a fair profit, an’ it ain’t in human natur’ to do that.”

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, January 30, 1921.

To begin with, the words left out of the last Forgetful poem were tobacco and ends. A dog is like a waste bucket because he is full of scraps. The state paper and famous ship was the Constitution.

The Forgetful Poet is feeling nonsensical, I think, from the sound of this verse, but he said to stick it in while he thought up a riddle. So I did.

Once there was a cotton rabbit
With a sugar-coated tail,
Who had a most amazing habit
Of chewing up the family mail!

Can you fill in these blanks?

There once was a -----
Who live in a garret,
And live upon coffee beans,
Crackers and -----.

The blanks in this verse can be filled in by musical terms.

An old man stood beside a wall,
And he was bent and pale,
And heavily leaned on his -----.
“The wall’s too high to -----,
I’ll have to go the other way,”
Quoth he, and down he sat
To ----- awhile upon a boulder,
Smooth and broad and -----.

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2017 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

A GOOSE POEM and Other Animal Verse

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

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, May 19, 1918.

A maiden goose of age uncertain
Sat dreaming by her window curtain!

Her dreams of a gallant gander who
On bandy legs had come to woo!

At just this point the goose awoke,
For a gander voice on the stillness broke!

“Honk! Honk!” he called. “My love come he-re!”
Out rushed Miss Goose, you could hardly see her!

Alas, poor soul! Next minute found
Her stretched and breathless on the ground!

A motor horn! The poor old goose
Is crying yet—but what’s the use?

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, February 2, 1919.

When big Madam Elephant cleans up her house,
’Tis done with no trouble or flurry.
No ladders or chairs; with a trunk like hers there’s
No occasion for fluster or worry!

It reaches the high spots and reaches the low,
And serves as a mop or a hose,
And that is the reason her nerves are so calm,
And her house is so neat, I suppose!

(I think an inventor must surely have seen her
And gotten a tip for the vacuum cleaner.)

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, July 27, 1919.

Did you ever see a Dandy Lion?
He’s a sight to see.
With monocle from London Town
And cane from gay Paree.
His mane he combs in Russian style.
He wears a Homburg hat,
But his suit is straight American,
Just let me tell you that.
And when he strolls his eyes he rolls
Till all the beasts are sighin’
And envious—why some of us
May see a Dandy Lion!
              (Some day.)

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, March 9, 1919.

A pussy willow tree, you know,
Is where the fairy kittens grow;
At night upon the willow bough
They roll and tumble and meow.

Until the fairies come to pet them;
Oho! the fairies don’t forget them—
Saucers of cream the fairies bring,
Kitten lullabies they sing!

Besides the little fairy kittens,
Muffs and furs and fairy mittens
Grow on these branches—so you see,
It is a very useful tree (for fairies).

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, January 23, 1921.


“A pig,” says the Forgetful Poet, “is like a tomato because neither can climb a tree.” Well, did you ever? Here I’ve been trying to guess that puzzle all week and it’s only a joke!

The blanks in the verses were “gay,” “about them” and “hard.” What do you think of these verses?

There was fat and portly mouse,
Whose coat was green alpaca;
All day he sat around the house
And smoked dark brown -----.

He’d never heard that proverb known
To you, my little friends,
That “Singing cows and smoking mice
All come to dreadful -----!”

Why is a bowwow like a waste bucket? This really has a regular answer.

What state paper names a famous ship?

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2017 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 1, 2017


By Jack Snow
Author of Spectral Snow, The Shaggy Man of Oz, "A Murder in Oz," etc.

Originally published in Dark Music and Other Spectral Tales, 1947.

I had taken care of Alicia for all six years of her short life. Her mother had died at childbirth and her father, Will Raynor, had hired me as nurse and governess for the child. That was back in 1910 in a small town in the middle west where Will Raynor was a moderately well-to-do business man.

I was in my middle-thirties then and already resigned to spinsterhood and a life of nursing. Shy, retiring and never even remotely a beauty, I had endured a lonely girlhood, emerging into middle-age with an abiding love of my work and a deep sense of peace that was and has been a blessing, and, I suppose my consolation for the denial of marriage and children of my own. Now that I am an old woman and look back on my life, I certainly see no reason to count my years of service wasted, nor can I truthfully say that I have not enjoyed the quiet of spirit that has been mine and the joy I have experienced in serving others and being rewarded with their gratitude and friendship over many long years.

But this is not my story. Lives like mine are all too common in small towns, and too uncommon in large cities where the patterns of people and life change too rapidly for anything like peace or serenity to exist.

This is the story of laughing, blue-eyed, golden-haired Alicia Raynor and tow-headed, brown-eyed Tommy Ramsey who lived next door. In every possible way I was a mother to little Alicia, and she loved me, I am proud to say, as she might have loved her own sweet mother, whom I saw die. From that moment on, until her own death six short years later, Alicia was mine. Tommy had been born just a week before Alicia, and I remember that his mother had been grief stricken when told o£ Mrs. Raynor’s death. The two had been neighbors and good friends since girl-hood. They had planned many things they would do together with their children. They had agreed, half seri-ously, half facetiously that Mrs. Ramsey would have a boy and Mrs. Raynor would have a girl, and the children should grow up together. Well, at least part of their plan worked out, although poor Mrs. Raynor died without knowing whether her baby was a little girl or boy. After Mrs. Raynor’s death, I became quite friendly with Mrs. Ramsey, and as it was more than ever her wish that Alicia and Tommy should be comrades from baby days on, I was only too glad to agree.

So that was how it was that from the time the children were able to toddle they were together constantly. When Alicia was not in her nursery or playing about the house, I knew I could find her next door at the Ramseys’. Mrs. Ramsey enjoyed a like assurance concerning her Tommy. The children were wonderful together. I never once knew them to quarrel. I know many parents will scoff at that statement, but I insist it is true. Alicia and Tommy had no childish quarrels. It was as though they had been born to be together. Their toys were common property. Indeed, I do not think they looked upon their possessions as individually such. Perhaps they even regarded themselves as one. That would have been entirely natural since they had been together almost constantly from their earliest days. Often have I speculated on what their lives would have been like had they grown up and wedded. Surely such a marriage would have been one of those made in heaven.

The first five years of my life with Mr. Raynor and the children were as happy and uneventful as I have known, giving no hint of the sorrow that was to follow so soon. It was Alicia’s fifth birthday that really marked the begin-ning of the end. For it was on this occasion that Mr. Raynor gave her the Doll House.

I recall that day perfectly. It was early in March, grey, raw and blustery. Alicia and Tommy were playing in the nursery, and Mr. Raynor had come home early from his office. We climbed the stair, he carrying the well-wrapped Doll House. The nursery was lighted by a chandelier in which glowed four old fashioned electric light bulbs with shimmering carbon filaments and sharp tips like tears dripping from their rounded surfaces.

Both children were immediately fascinated by the package and flew to the aid of Mr. Raynor in removing the wrappers. When they saw the beautiful Doll House they went into ecstasies of delight.

“Our house!” they crowed in unison. “Now we have a house of our very own!”

Mr. Raynor and I simply sat down and enjoyed the scene. It was a remarkably elaborate and exquisitely con-structed Doll House. The roof and the sides lifted up so that each room was available for play. The furnishings of the rooms were marvels in themselves. There were no painted carpets here, but soft, finely woven, tiny rugs and carpets. Chairs and lounges were upholstered. The dining room was complete down to buffet with silver, glass and linen service. The kitchen was filled with delightful minia-tures of all the fixtures and utensils that made up the modern kitchen of that far-away day. The bedrooms were delights of tiny coziness. The beds were furnished with springs, mattresses, sheets, blankets and pillows with slips embroidered with fairy buttercups.  There was even a nursery complete with toys that an elf child might have delighted in. These were miniatures of exquisite work-manship. All must have been hand wrought, for the tiny doll carriage, the wee drum, the inch-tall clown, and all the others were delicately and charmingly carved and put together. In one corner of the nursery stood a miniature Noah’s Ark, and in another a Doll House that measured no more than three inches high. I wondered whimsically at the time if that three-inch-high Doll House had a Doll House within it—and so on and on, like the Chinese boxes that fit endlessly into each other.

When the excitement had died down somewhat, Mr. Raynor demonstrated the crowning wonder of this model house done in Lilliputian style. He had left the nursery for a moment to reappear with a package from which he produced four dry cells and a coil of bell wire. He hooked the batteries into circuit and fastened the lead wires to two terminals at the rear of the Doll House. Immediately the structure glowed with lights in every colorful room. The Doll House was electrically lighted! In 1915 that was sheer and utter magic and enchantment. The children were almost awed. Here was a house straight out of fairy-land, and it was all theirs!

Despite Alicia and Tommy’s wonder and joy, it didn’t take them long to discover new miracles in their enchanted house. Each of the tiny lights—which were no more than flashlight bulbs—could be turned on and off by individual switches on the walls and in the lamp bases. The house was as efficiently wired as any fire insurance underwriter would require in a human habitation.

From that moment on the Doll House was the center of Alicia and Tommy’s lives. They were never so happy as when they were playing house. On fine days I insisted as did Tommy’s mother that they play out-of-doors. But in spite of their normal, healthy love of the sunlight and fresh air and the romping games that could be played only on the sunny lawn or the glistening snow, it seemed to me that the children actually welcomed the gloomy days of rain, wind and bitter cold.

That was a happy year for all of us. I was not one whit worried over the children’s preoccupation with their Doll House. Who wouldn’t be fascinated with so marvelous a creation? I was, myself. And as 1916 dawned, I knew that the coming fall would see the children entering grade school—going hand in hand out into the world. I knew the association of other children, school occupations, and the swift unfolding of the world outside their homes would slowly but steadily lessen their interest in the Doll House. I sighed. Soon they would be our babies no longer, but children on the way to growing up.

However, that was not meant to be. It was late in March —a March that was roaring out like a cageful of angry lions—that first Alicia, and only a few days later Tommy, fell ill. It was dread diphtheria. Remember, those were still the days when diphtheria was a ruthless slayer of children. Widespread vaccination, except for smallpox, and inoculation were not yet prevalent in middle western schools. Nor were sanitary conditions anything like they are today. Few small towns possessed adequate water sup-plies. In our home, drinking water came from a well with a pump in the kitchen, while water for other purposes was nothing more than rain water, collected in a cistern. Control by preventive and sanitation measures were still to come, and in those years many an American town knew the terrors of diphtheria epidemics.

Even now I do not like to hark back to those dread two weeks. Alicia and Tommy suffered piteously. We made them as comfortable as possible, and did everything then prescribed to stay the course of the disease. The two houses were quarantined as one, and I divided my time between the two children, although the Ramseys had engaged their own nurse.

The parents were frantic. In such circumstances there is just no means of consolation, particularly when one needs to be consoled oneself. The end came one bleak, cold night in April. Alicia and Tommy stopped breathing at almost the same time. A blackness fell on all our hearts. I won’t, I can’t say that I suffered more than the parents, but I had been almost as close to Tommy as Alicia. I had lost two children.

The next few days we moved about like automatons. We had all been hurt so deeply that the funeral services and then the days following in the dreadfully quiet houses seemed unreal and nightmarish.

There was no reason for me to remain longer with Mr. Raynor. He had a competent housekeeper to look after things. He no longer needed the services of a nurse and governess. But Mr. Raynor asked me to stay on for a few more weeks until he had somewhat recovered from the shock of his loss. He confided in me that he planned to dismiss the housekeeper, sell the house and furnishings, and move to the one good hotel the town boasted. I could understand that very well. He was entirely alone now, and living in that empty house, surrounded by memories, would have been depressing and unhealthful.

So I remained, and that was how I chanced to experience the strangest happening of my entire life. It was nearly midnight one dreary Monday. It had been raining all day and the drops continued to beat a melancholy tapping on the roof. It was so quiet that I could hear the rain gutter-ing into the spouting outside my window. Mr. Raynor had retired several hours before, and the housekeeper had been in her room since early evening. I, alone, was awake.

I could not sleep, and had been reading. My extremely unfortunate choice of reading matter had been Henry James’ “The Turn of the Screw.” I am not a literary person, so I could not have known beforehand that the story was a great horror classic about a little girl and little boy who died. I had selected the book at random from Mr. Raynor’s library, and once I started reading it, I could not put it aside.

My little bed clock was ticking busily, and the hands had almost met at 12, when I finished the story with its tremendous ending. Realization of the meaning of the book swept over me like a cold tide of terror. I sat per-fectly still, thinking. The house was utterly quiet. There was only the ticking of my clock, and the sound of the chill rain in the black night outside. I felt suddenly cold, and rose to put a shawl about my shoulders.

It was then that the light attracted my attention. A door of my room opened into the nursery. Flowing from under this door, I thought I detected a faint light. Since the children had gone, neither Mr. Raynor nor I had entered the nursery. Our grief was still too fresh for that. But I was perfectly sure that no lights had been left on in the nursery. There was no alternative. I must investigate. I slowly opened the door and looked in. The faint light came from the Doll House.

There were lights in two of its downstairs rooms. Could Mr. Raynor have been there earlier in the evening and left the lights on? That must be the explanation, I assured myself. And then I stared in amazement. The light in one of the rooms—the living room—winked out! An instant later the light in the other room—the kitchen —vanished. The nursery was lighted only by a narrow path of faint luminance that flowed from my room. The Doll House was in complete shadow. I was trembling with cold now, and it wasn’t the kind of cold a shawl could dis-sipate.

Standing there in the shadow, staring at the Doll House, I heard it—unmistakably—the sound of two pairs of tiny feet pattering up a stairway—the stairway in the Doll House. I gasped, and then told myself I must regain con-trol of my nerves. Mice, I had heard, and nothing more— mice. Nevertheless, my hands shook, and I felt sick and weak.

Just as the footsteps on the stairway ceased, a light on the second floor of the Doll House blinked on. It was the light in the Doll House nursery.

Strong as my desire was to flee from the room, I knew what I must do, or never again know peace of mind. My hands shook violently, and I was desperately weak as I reached out to raise the roof of the Doll House so that I might peer into the tiny nursery.

I will state simply, and in as few words as possible what I saw. In the nursery of the Doll House were two tiny children, not more than six inches tall. One was Alicia— the other Tommy. They were natural as life, save that they were so tiny-—so doll-like. Entirely absorbed in each other the mannikins seemed unaware of my presence or of my having raised the roof of the Doll House. The two were standing before the three-inch-high Doll House in the Doll House nursery.

Just before darkness closed in and I fell in a deep faint, I heard perfectly and unquestionably the piping, childish treble of the miniature Alicia as she said to the wee Tommy:

“Let’s play house!”

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, January 16, 1921.

The Puzzle Corner

Why is a pig like a tomato? asks the Forgetful Poet, and I, for one, don’t think it is. But he says there is an answer to this, so see whether you can find it.

The Tom Tom in the band
Rose up and
Bit the poor Trombone.
It wept three treble notes,
And then a dreadful
B Flat groan.

Can you fill in these blanks.

I lost my rubbers yesterday,
I hurried forth without them,
Quite brave and unconcerned and -----
Why should I care ----- -----?

Oh, why? I struck a bit of ice,
I slid—perhaps a yard—
I balanced, tottered dizzily,
Then sat down very -----!

Of course, you all guessed last week’s riddle—a pan of bread is like the sun because it rises.

[Answers next time.]
Copyright © 2017 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Friday, September 1, 2017


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

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, March 13, 1921.

Timmy Twitchet was a little gray mouse-gentleman with curly whiskers and charming manners. He was a self-made mouse, moreover, and had, by his own efforts, risen from the woodshed to the attic!

Timmy’s early years had been spent as apprentice to a cross old cobbler-mouse whose bootshop was in a corner of the shed in a large city dwelling. Early and late the little mouse was kept blacking boots and running errands.

But Timmy kept his eyes open and before long had got a position as headwaiter in a modest mouse hotel kept by an old maid mouse in the kitchen cupboard. And so successful was he in gathering crumbs and other attractive fare from the dining-room table that he was asked to take entire charge of the Young Business Mouse’ Lunch Club, which had quarters in an exclusive corner of the sideboard.

From then on Timmy’s fortune improved. He had a wonderful facility for getting what he wanted without being molested by the giant two-legs who owned the house.

He taught in the public mouse-school in the library bookcase; then progressed rapidly through every room in the mansion, each time bettering his position and acquiring a little of the polish which later made him so delightful and so popular. In his early prime Timmy reached the top floor and here, in the children’s nursery, ran a flourishing banking business.

The dolls urged him to settle down—to build a house (there were plenty of blocks and supplies to be picked up cheap), but Timmy shook his head. When he settled down, he decided solemnly, it would be among his own people and in a quieter neighborhood.

So one day, after adding up his cash book, Timmy found he had enough to retire comfortably and, bidding good-by to the toys, he turned his steps toward the attic. It is to the attic that wealthy mice who have made their fortunes retire to live in ease and comfort far from the noise and persecutions of people, and it was in the attic that Timmy found his future home.

It was in the suburbs of the little flourishing attic city, and how the mice had overlooked it Timmy could not imagine. With his paws clasped in ecstasy Timmy stood before the handsome old homestead—then, dashing up the steps, claimed it for his own.

No wonder Timmy was so delighted. It was an abandoned doll house with a colonial front door, windows that opened, shades, furniture, carpets and a real bath tub.

The excited little mouse-gentleman hurried from floor to floor, snapped up all the shades, looked under the beds, bounced on the old-fashioned sofa to test the springs and finally, with a chuckle of pure content, settled down in a big (for a mouse) armchair to brood over his good fortune. Then, winding the clock which never ran, he hurried down to the attic hardware store and ordered a brass name-plate for his door.

“Timmy Twitchet, Esquire.”

“And mind you letter it plainly, he ordered, twirling his cane recklessly, and strode out, leaving the shopkeeper breathless with admiration. Timmy had style, there was no denying!

On the doll house steps Timmy paused again to admire his mansion. He thought with scorn of the old hole in the shed that used to harbor him, and of his struggles to rise in the world

“This—is living,” said Timmy proudly, “A little paint, a through cleaning and a few personal touches will make this the finest establishment in the attic!”

No callers came that evening, so Timmy retired early and, dreaming of sun parlors, green portieres, red lamp shades and a life-size portrait of himself over the library mantel, the little self-made mouse dropped off happily to sleep in the tiny four-post doll bed!

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, January 9, 1921.


Before breaking into verse the Forgetful Poet says that the only bird who can go into four twice is a Toucan, and I guess he is right about that. The two great Americans found in a tree are Root and Wood, and the rhyme of Dr. Duck was impossible, as one young lady put it, because a shad has no shin, a frog has no tail, a dog has no wing and a jellyfish no bones. The Forgetful Poet still thinks it was a pretty good poem.

“Why is a pan of bread like the sun?” he asks this week, and then goes on to give us another impossible poem, which he declares is as sensible as poetry need be.

A Strenuous Week-End

I went a-driving on a lake,
And rowing on a mountain,
And passing through a garden
Got all dusty from a fountain.

I ate a book of fiction up,
And read a box of candy;
I heard the moving pictures through,
And saw a concert dandy.

And, after all this, being tired,
I hustled off to bed,
And dreamed I was a clown
Supporting lions on my head.

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2017 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


By John R. Neill
Author of The Runaway in Oz, The Wonder City of Oz, Lucky Bucky in Oz, etc.

Originally published in the Philadelphia North American, May 20, 1906.

Click to enlarge.

  The Forgetful Poet 
By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, January 2, 1921.

Most of you got the Forgetful Poet’s message in cipher, for he just said “Happy New Year” backward, and today he repeats it forward. And to begin the new year right he will answer his puzzles first. The dog was a pug, the cities in Georgia were Macon and Augusta and a man can have three ears because he has two of his own and a long-distance telephone ear. The two distinctly American-named states are Washington and Indiana and the precious stone a solitaire.

Now he would like to know—

What bird can go into four twice?

In what two parts of a tree can be found two great Americans of the present—a diplomat and a soldier.

Sure Cures

Dr. Duck made a speech
In the henhouse last night,
Of cures he had made,
And of ills he’d set right.

He took off his specs
And he said, to begin,
He’d cured an old shad
Of a pain in its shin!

That he’d untied a knot
In the tail of a frog,
And poulticed the wing
Of a suffering dog!

Besides he’d restored
An old jelly fish, too,
It was chilled to the bone
And rheumatic clear through.

The hens were impressed
At the doctor’s facility,
But I say his cures
Are an impossibility!

But when I told the Forgetful Poet so, he said he didn’t see why. “Well, the boys and girls will soon tell you,” said I. And between you and me I’m afraid Dr. Duck is a bit of a quack.

The Forgetful Poet says he has an animal riddle for you. He wants to know how many lions you can think of. I can think of only two, but he says there are more. How many can you think of?

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2017 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Saturday, July 1, 2017


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

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, June 8, 1919.

Once upon a time there was a dear little rosy fairy who loved the water. It was so cool and ripply, and she liked to make little leaf boats and watch them sail away. Fairies may not wash in brooks and rivers. No, indeed; they wash in dew and bathe in the crystal fountains in Fairyland, and if they fall into everyday and unmagic water they become visible at once. And worse still, they lose all their wishing power, every single bit, so that it is very dangerous for fairies to play near brooks and ponds. Oh, very dangerous, indeed!

But Nella could not keep away from them, and more than anything else she longed to go sailing across the pond on one of her leaf boats. She knew very well that flying was safer, that if she got wet she would lose her wishing power, but that made it even more adventuresome.

So one sunny day she tried it. And it was even nicer than she had supposed. The little leaf went spinning along with the current. Nella waved to a butterfly just overhead, and while she was looking upward her little craft struck a large stick and went under. Before she had time to use her wings Nella fell into the pond—down, down, down. As soon as she had touched the water she, of course, became visible, and a little frog who had been sunning himself on a nearby lily pad rubbed his eyes in amazement.

“Why, it’s a fairy!” he exclaimed. Then, without a moment’s hesitation he dived under the water, for he knew that fairies cannot swim. When Nella opened her eyes she was lying under a big leaf on the edge of the pond, and the little frog was fanning her with a daisy petal. Realizing what had happened she began to weep bitterly, and the poor frog was at his wits’ end to comfort her.

“I’ll hide you away till midnight, and then you can fly back to Fairyland,” he assured her eagerly.

“The only way to get to Fairyland is to wish one’s self there,” mourned Nella, dabbing at her eyes with her wet frock, “and I’ve lost my wishing power—oh, why did I ever go sailing? I shall never see my home again and will perish with cold!”

“Isn’t there any other way for you to get back?” he asked anxiously.

Nella put her tiny hand to her head, and thought and thought of all the books of fairy lore she had studied. Then she brightened up a bit.

“If three fairies or flowers wish for my return I could fly back in an instant, but suppose they do not think of wishing for me, what then?”

“You surely have three friends,” chuckled the little frog. “Why all you have to do is to make yourself comfortable till they call you back. And in the mean time I will take care of you. Order me about as much as you please,” he finished recklessly.

He made her a little bower between two small stones arched over top with flowers and carpeted with clover leaves. Then he brought her all the books he could find, and a large strawberry from a nearby garden. Nella could not thank him enough, and settled down in her hiding place to wait for the wishes that would carry her home. The good little frog placed himself before her door to keep away curious insects and all other enemies.

Meanwhile back in Fairyland Nella’s absence had not been noticed. There are so many fairies, and they so often visit one another that days might pass without her being missed.

Three days actually did pass and each one made the little fairy droop more. The little frog did everything he could to amuse her, even to standing on his head, but whenever she thought he was not looking Nella would weep bitterly into her cobwebbed handkerchief. Just as the little fellow was growing desperate and preparing to start off to Fairyland himself to find her friends, something happened. Nella’s wings, which had never dried off, but hung limply from her shoulders, grew bright and shimmery again—all in a second.

“Somebody has wished for me!” thrilled the little sprite, hugging the frog in her delight. And who do you ’spose that somebody was? A little violet! Nella always brought her a little pail of dew at nightfall, and for three nights no one had remembered the little flower. “Where can Nella be? Oh, I wish Nella were here,” she sighed. And that was the first wish.

The next day as Nella was reading a story to the frog out of the Pond Lily primer all at once her lacy frock, which had hung down as sadly as her wings, fluffed out all around her and turned a hundred rainbow colors. “Somebody has wished for me again,” cried Nella, clapping her hands! And who do you ’spose it was this time? A dear, little, old, old—oh, a thousand-year old gentleman fairy to whom Nella often read the Fairy Press, for his eyes were not so bright as they had been. “Where’s Nella?” he muttered anxiously after four days had brought no sign of her. “Oh, dear, I’ve lost my specs and I do wish she were here to read to me.”

While Nella was clapping her hands, and the frog was trying to look as happy as she felt (he was going to miss her awfully), the third little wish came rustling into the bower, and Nella’s little gold slippers, which had been very dull, grew as gold and dancy as sunbeams, and the next minute the frog gave a gasp of surprise for she had vanished entirely away, and all that he heard was a faint voice calling, “Good-by, little brother, I shall not forget you.” And who do you ’spose had wished for Nella this time? Why, a little fairy girl, who had cut her finger on a thorn. Every one tried to comfort her, but she wailed loudly for Nella: “If Nella were here she would kiss it and make it well! Oh, I wish that she were here!” Yes, that is the story of how Nella got back to Fairyland. The little frog mourned and mourned for her, and one day what do you think? He was whisked up, up and away. Little wings began to tickle his shoulders, and next minute he was in Fairyland himself, turned by Nella into a lovely little green sprite and there he lived happily ever and forever afterward.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, December 26, 1920.


The Forgetful Poet has a message for you in cipher. See whether you can make it out. “Raey wen yppah!” says the dear fellow, or at least he would say it if it were pronounceable.

A kind of dog describes a nose;
Guessed that already I suppose!

A word meaning to create will give a city of Georgia and a girl’s name another city.

Though strange to many—it appears
A man may have at least three ears?

What two states in the Union have distinctly American names?

What precious stone names a game of cards?

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2017 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.