Wednesday, December 30, 2015


By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of Speedy in Oz, Ozoplaning with the Wizard of Oz, The Wish Express, "King, King! Double King!" etc.
Illustrated by Frank Godwin

Originally published in the Phildelphia Public Ledger,  October 12, 1919.

HEIGHO—there was once a Kingdom where the sky was always blue—the King always kind and the people always happy! They sang from morning till night—the King louder than all the rest. He even sang in his sleep. Yes—really! So, no wonder it happened—no wonder at all!

Listen—one morning as the fiddlers were fiddling the jolliest tune imaginable and the King singing away for dear life—my stars!—his voice, his beautiful voice—cracked and broke into about twenty pieces. Think of it! The fiddlers stopped fiddling—the Queen wept and called for her smelling salts—the wise men came hurrying from every direction. Some said—“Do this”—and some said, “Do that”—but nobody did anything till the old Court Doctor arrived.

He put on his horn spectacles and looked down the King’s throat. “Say AH—!” ordered the little man. Then he shook his head and began looking all around.

“Where are the pieces?” he cried in a loud voice—“The King’s voice is broken and cannot be mended till we find the pieces.” Every one looked and looked—but nobody could find them till all at once the Doctor spied the King’s pet duck. “Aha!” he roared, pointing at the poor creature—“So YOU have eaten the pieces—well then the King must eat YOU!”

So he did—though very sorrowfully, in a huge pasty—and would you believe it—his voice did mend—but ever afterward it had a strange sound—almost—yes, almost like the quack of his duck—but as the Doctor said over and over—the only way to mend a voice is to assemble the pieces, for a voice is one thing that cannot be put in splints. And he is perfectly right about that.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, May 23, 1920.

The Puzzle Corner

The Forgetful Poet seems to be full of ideas in the spring. The answers to his various rhymes and riddles last week were palette, and a hen would feather stitch if she sewed. The missing clothing from his verses were pumps, hose, cap, waist, suit and boot.

The week he begs to state that his puzzles are very stately. I do not know just what he means, but perhaps he has concealed some states in these ridiculous lines. They may be abbreviated.

A Comical State of Affairs

O, send for Henry Prim, Md.,
Miss Ellen is quite ill,
Said Minn to pa and then to me
Oh, la, my child, keep still!

Sweet Cal, she had a mass of hair
Tenn times her share, I wis!
’Tis hard to wash and quite a care
To Cal, I’m sure it is.

Conn had a little Noah’s Ark,
I have a little store
With salt and scales and sample cans
And oilcloth on the floor.

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2015 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


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

Excerpted from The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, 1902.

When you remember that no child, until Santa Claus began his travels, had ever known the pleasure of possessing a toy, you will understand how joy crept into the homes of those who had been favored with a visit from the good man, and how they talked of him day by day in loving tones and were honestly grateful for his kindly deeds. It is true that great warriors and mighty kings and clever scholars of that day were often spoken of by the people; but no one of them was so greatly beloved as Santa Claus, because none other was so unselfish as to devote himself to making others happy. For a generous deed lives longer than a great battle or a king's decree of a scholar's essay, because it spreads and leaves its mark on all nature and endures through many generations.

The bargain made with the Knook Prince changed the plans of Claus for all future time; for, being able to use the reindeer on but one night of each year, he decided to devote all the other days to the manufacture of playthings, and on Christmas Eve to carry them to the children of the world.

But a year's work would, he knew, result in a vast accumulation of toys, so he resolved to build a new sledge that would be larger and stronger and better-fitted for swift travel than the old and clumsy one.

His first act was to visit the Gnome King, with whom he made a bargain to exchange three drums, a trumpet and two dolls for a pair of fine steel runners, curled beautifully at the ends. For the Gnome King had children of his own, who, living in the hollows under the earth, in mines and caverns, needed something to amuse them.

In three days the steel runners were ready, and when Claus brought the playthings to the Gnome King, his Majesty was so greatly pleased with them that he presented Claus with a string of sweet-toned sleigh-bells, in addition to the runners.

"These will please Glossie and Flossie," said Claus, as he jingled the bells and listened to their merry sound. "But I should have two strings of bells, one for each deer."

"Bring me another trumpet and a toy cat," replied the King, "and you shall have a second string of bells like the first."

"It is a bargain!" cried Claus, and he went home again for the toys.

The new sledge was carefully built, the Knooks bringing plenty of strong but thin boards to use in its construction. Claus made a high, rounding dash-board to keep off the snow cast behind by the fleet hoofs of the deer; and he made high sides to the platform so that many toys could be carried, and finally he mounted the sledge upon the slender steel runners made by the Gnome King.

It was certainly a handsome sledge, and big and roomy. Claus painted it in bright colors, although no one was likely to see it during his midnight journeys, and when all was finished he sent for Glossie and Flossie to come and look at it.

The deer admired the sledge, but gravely declared it was too big and heavy for them to draw.

"We might pull it over the snow, to be sure," said Glossie; "but we would not pull it fast enough to enable us to visit the far-away cities and villages and return to the Forest by daybreak."

"Then I must add two more deer to my team," declared Claus, after a moment's thought.

"The Knook Prince allowed you as many as ten. Why not use them all?" asked Flossie. "Then we could speed like the lightning and leap to the highest roofs with ease."

"A team of ten reindeer!" cried Claus, delightedly. "That will be splendid. Please return to the Forest at once and select eight other deer as like yourselves as possible. And you must all eat of the casa plant, to become strong, and of the grawle plant, to become fleet of foot, and of the marbon plant, that you may live long to accompany me on my journeys. Likewise it will be well for you to bathe in the Pool of Nares, which the lovely Queen Zurline declares will render you rarely beautiful. Should you perform these duties faithfully there is no doubt that on next Christmas Eve my ten reindeer will be the most powerful and beautiful steeds the world has ever seen!"

So Glossie and Flossie went to the Forest to choose their mates, and Claus began to consider the question of a harness for them all.

In the end he called upon Peter Knook for assistance, for Peter's heart is as kind as his body is crooked, and he is remarkably shrewd, as well. And Peter agreed to furnish strips of tough leather for the harness.

This leather was cut from the skins of lions that had reached such an advanced age that they died naturally, and on one side was tawny hair while the other side was cured to the softness of velvet by the deft Knooks. When Claus received these strips of leather he sewed them neatly into a harness for the ten reindeer, and it proved strong and serviceable and lasted him for many years.

The harness and sledge were prepared at odd times, for Claus devoted most of his days to the making of toys. These were now much better than the first ones had been, for the immortals often came to his house to watch him work and to offer suggestions. It was Necile's idea to make some of the dolls say "papa" and "mama." It was a thought of the Knooks to put a squeak inside the lambs, so that when a child squeezed them they would say "baa-a-a-a!" And the Fairy Queen advised Claus to put whistles in the birds, so they could be made to sing, and wheels on the horses, so children could draw them around. Many animals perished in the Forest, from one cause or another, and their fur was brought to Claus that he might cover with it the small images of beasts he made for playthings. A merry Ryl suggested that Claus make a donkey with a nodding head, which he did, and afterward found that it amused the little ones immensely. And so the toys grew in beauty and attractiveness every day, until they were the wonder of even the immortals.

When another Christmas Eve drew near there was a monster load of beautiful gifts for the children ready to be loaded upon the big sledge. Claus filled three sacks to the brim, and tucked every corner of the sledge-box full of toys besides.

Then, at twilight, the ten reindeer appeared and Flossie introduced them all to Claus. They were Racer and Pacer, Reckless and Speckless, Fearless and Peerless, and Ready and Steady, who, with Glossie and Flossie, made up the ten who have traversed the world these hundreds of years with their generous master. They were all exceedingly beautiful, with slender limbs, spreading antlers, velvety dark eyes and smooth coats of fawn color spotted with white.

Claus loved them at once, and has loved them ever since, for they are loyal friends and have rendered him priceless service.

The new harness fitted them nicely and soon they were all fastened to the sledge by twos, with Glossie and Flossie in the lead. These wore the strings of sleigh-bells, and were so delighted with the music they made that they kept prancing up and down to make the bells ring.

Claus now seated himself in the sledge, drew a warm robe over his knees and his fur cap over his ears, and cracked his long whip as a signal to start.

Instantly the ten leaped forward and were away like the wind, while jolly Claus laughed gleefully to see them run and shouted a song in his big, hearty voice:

       "With a ho, ho, ho!
       And a ha, ha, ha!
And a ho, ho, ha, ha, hee!
       Now away we go
       O'er the frozen snow,
As merry as we can be!

       There are many joys
       In our load of toys,
As many a child will know;
       We'll scatter them wide
       On our wild night ride
O'er the crisp and sparkling snow!"

Now it was on this same Christmas Eve that little Margot and her brother Dick and her cousins Ned and Sara, who were visiting at Margot's house, came in from making a snow man, with their clothes damp, their mittens dripping and their shoes and stockings wet through and through. They were not scolded, for Margot's mother knew the snow was melting, but they were sent early to bed that their clothes might be hung over chairs to dry. The shoes were placed on the red tiles of the hearth, where the heat from the hot embers would strike them, and the stockings were carefully hung in a row by the chimney, directly over the fireplace. That was the reason Santa Claus noticed them when he came down the chimney that night and all the household were fast asleep. He was in a tremendous hurry and seeing the stockings all belonged to children he quickly stuffed his toys into them and dashed up the chimney again, appearing on the roof so suddenly that the reindeer were astonished at his agility.

"I wish they would all hang up their stockings," he thought, as he drove to the next chimney. "It would save me a lot of time and I could then visit more children before daybreak."

When Margot and Dick and Ned and Sara jumped out of bed next morning and ran downstairs to get their stockings from the fireplace they were filled with delight to find the toys from Santa Claus inside them. In face, I think they found more presents in their stockings than any other children of that city had received, for Santa Claus was in a hurry and did not stop to count the toys.

Of course they told all their little friends about it, and of course every one of them decided to hang his own stockings by the fireplace the next Christmas Eve. Even Bessie Blithesome, who made a visit to that city with her father, the great Lord of Lerd, heard the story from the children and hung her own pretty stockings by the chimney when she returned home at Christmas time.

On his next trip Santa Claus found so many stockings hung up in anticipation of his visit that he could fill them in a jiffy and be away again in half the time required to hunt the children up and place the toys by their bedsides.

The custom grew year after year, and has always been a great help to Santa Claus. And, with so many children to visit, he surely needs all the help we are able to give him.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson 
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, May 16, 1920.

 The Puzzle Corner

Well, sir, you all know your weights and measures and the answers to last week’s verses. Howsomever, I’ll put them in. They were: Gill, yard, quire, ounce, foot, pound, rod, grain and reams.

And now I’d like to have you note
An artist’s tool is in your throat.
(Which one?)

If a hen should sew might not she choose
A simple ----- stitch to use.


All of the missing words in this poem may be worn at some time or other.

Now man the -----
Get out the -----
The ship’s afire
The sea has rose!
(What shocking grammar.)
The farmer hoped to -----tivate
Sweet Anne, he’d try at any rate,
And without ----- of time or money
He went to call upon her, honey,
Her father frowned upon his -----
And sent him off betimes to -----.

Why is a hen like a writer?

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2015 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015


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

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, December 21, 1919.

A week before Christmas and nothing had been done about it! No, sir, not one thing! All the scribes and wise men of the court had been poring over catalogues for months, and the prime minister had visited every shop in the kingdom, but here it was, as I say, the week before Christmas and nothing done.

Instead of jollity and cheer the whole kingdom was plunged in gloom. And all because—well, I’m sure you will laugh at the idea—the young Prince of Pumperdink could not find a single thing he wanted for Christmas. There he sat at a golden table and there before him lay a long, white scroll, headed thusly—“Christmas List of His Most Royal Highness, the Prince of Pumperdink.”

A continual stream of courtiers passed through the room, each one with a suggestion, but at each the prince would sigh deeply and shake his head.

“Have that already. Have dozens of those. No—no—NO!”

And out the courtiers would tiptoe, for the prince was growing so cross that not infrequently he flung the golden ornaments on his desk after the offending lords and ladies. Shocking, I admit, but, nevertheless, true!

“What’s the good of Christmas when you won’t get any presents!” he grumbled. “And last year I received the same things I did the year before that—”

“But your majesty has already everything that heart can desire!” mildly observed Jan, the court jester.

“But his highness the king demands that I write this list, as he spent two months shopping for me last year and still found nothing that I had not already. Can none of you blockheads about here do anything?” the prince screamed, his patience entirely exhausted.

“I’ll look into the matter,” chuckled the jester, refusing to be ruffled, and turning a somersault which made the prince smile in spite of himself.

“Why are you the only one who has not suggested anything to me?” exclaimed the boy, suddenly.

“You never asked me,” laughed the jester. “Let the wise men of the country solve the problem—for they tell me I know nothing but nonsense.”

Just then a page from the king came timidly into the hall and asked the prince if his list was ready, as the king and queen could not wait any longer.

“NO!” roared the prince, with such a threatening gesture that the poor little page fell over backward. Thumping on the table, the prince called loudly for the scribes and wise men, who were busily at work in the next room.

“Write this list—and at once!” he ordered. “And see that there is nothing on it that I have already!”
The old wise men seized the list with trembling hands and retired in great confusion. My, how un-Christmassy everything was. One would think that this prince was a terrible chap. But, really, at other times no one could be more considerate and charming.

Jan sighed and looked out the window, where a lot of peasant’s children were rolling in the snow. “Would your majesty care to skate this afternoon?” he asked. “Or we might go see the Christmas players in the village,” he suggested, brightly.But the prince only shook his head and stared glumly into the fire. The jester continued to look out of the window—truly it was a problem and truly his young master needed helping. But could he, a humble jester, hope to solve a question that even the wise men gave up as hopeless? He drummed on the pane absently, and continued to watch the merry youngsters below. Then, all at once he sprang into the air and snapped his fingers with glee.

“I have it—I have it!” he exulted, hopping around on one foot.

The prince looked up in surprise. “What?” he asked curiously.

“Why, the answer to your riddle,” laughed Jan. “Listen—” He whispered long and earnestly in the prince’s ear and next thing the two went rushing out of the room together.

“The royal coach at once—at once—do you hear me?” called the prince.

“At once, at once, and lively please. And mind your q’s and mind your p’s,” trilled Jan, hopping after the prince.

The footmen ran this way and that, and next thing the great coach of state, with ten prancing horses, came rattling up to the door.

“We’ll drive ourselves, thank you,” said the prince, and while everyone stared with wide eyes, Jan and he ran up to the prince’s apartment.

Down they came, with arms full of rich robes, and games, and books, and toys of every sort you have ever imagined. Then up and down ten times more, till not a single thing but the beds and chairs remained, ran the two.

They piled it helter-skelter into the coach, and with a wild whoop drove off toward the village. Was there ever such a gay ride? To right and left the prince tossed his treasures among the cheering peasant children, while Jan held in the high-stepping white horses.

Then back they galloped for a second load and a third. Even the royal stables were visited and all the prince’s pet ponies trotted out and given to the little children.

And fun! Why, the prince had never had so much fun in all his royal young life. “Why, this is a regular Christmas!” he beamed, as he and Jan trotted the tired horses back. The cheers of the village still sounded in their ears, and the joy on the faces of boys and girls who had received the gifts was no greater than the happiness reflected on the faces of Jan and the prince.

“Christmas is giving,” chuckled the jester. “And NOW, Prince Pauper, what a Christmas list we shall write together, so that the king and queen will also have the happiness of giving to you.” And what a list it was, indeed, for the prince had kept only his dog and needed everything, from buckled shoes to collar buttons.

“I’ll do this every year,” laughed the Prince of Pumperdink. And I hope he will, don’t you?

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, May 9, 1920.

The Puzzle Corner

The nicknames of the great people referred to last week did not puzzle many of you and there were so many right lists that there is hardly any use in putting the answers here. “The Little Colonel” was Napoleon, “Old Hickory” Andrew Jackson, “The Bard of Avon” Shakespeare, “The Border Minstrel” Sir Walter Scott, “Rough and Ready” Zachary Taylor, “The Great Commoner” William Pitt, “The Quaker Poet” Whittier, “The Maid of Orleans” Joan of Arc, “The Great Emancipator” Abraham Lincoln, “Poor Richard” Benjamin Franklin. The book people were Glumdalclitch and Tiny Tim.

The Forgetful Poet says it is time he weighed and measured his words. He has done so in the following poem and you will find the missing ones in some weights and measures.

Jack and ----- they fell quite hard,
They had no pump in their back-----.
Why did they run, may I in-----?
Pray, was the water for a fire?

Oh, if they’d had an ----- of wit,
They never would have run with it.
They lost their -----ing, I’ll be bound
One got a bump, and one a -----.

Another character quite odd
Is Simon and his fishing ------.
Poor Simon really was too dense,
He didn’t have a ----- of sense!
But here I’m writing ----- and -----
Of foolishness myself, it seems!

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2015 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


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

Originally published in The Orbit, the 1931 yearbook of Classen High School, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Eloise Jarvis was a junior and a member of the school’s literary group The Goose Quill Club. This is her earliest known published creative writing.

Swaying and Waving,
And weaving in fantastic rhythm,
Trembling in the sudden laughter of the blue wind,
Cluster the reeds of the marsh;
Slim as silver swords,
Graceful as fingers of smoke,
Their roots clutching the slimy mud.

Loving the grasp of tiny bird feet of their length
For a brief, dipping second,
And snapping up again to watch white wings
Beat the air over the dimpled marsh pools;
Intimate with little brown frogs;
With jeweled dragon-flies and winged marsh-hawks.

Moving with rippling slimness and smiling gravity;
With gypsy dancing and love of the wind
And the creatures of their swamp;
With constant pointing to the stars,
And awe of the moon;
With wild, winning, wayward swaying
From day to summer day.

By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, May 2, 1920.


Puzzle Corner

The farm implements and terms used in last week’s verses were: Hoe, rake, stock, pen, harrowing, patches and crops. The dear fellow wants to find out how many great people you know wee enough to call by their nicknames. How many can you recognize?

The Little Corporal
Old Hickory
The Bard of Avon
The Border Minstrel
Rough and Ready
The Great Commoner
The Quaker Poet
The Maid of Orleans
The Great Emancipator
Poor Richard

We shall have to give our history bump a jog I’m thinking to name some of these celebrities. And here besides is a verse containing several booky people.

Book People

I know a little giant girl,
Her name is -----.
And if you’ve read a certain book
Of travels you’ll know which
                   (One I mean).

I know a little book boy, too,
Quite cheerful, though he’s lame.
He’s in a book by Dickens. Now
You’ll surely know his name!

[Answers next time.]

Copyright © 2015 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.