Friday, December 1, 2023


By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of Captain Salt of Oz, "The Wizard of Pumperdink," "King, King! Double King!" etc.

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, June 16, 1918.

Oliver Elephant is a very nice elephant boy who lives in the jungle with his father and mother and Uncle Abner Elephant, and wears big, loose gray rompers which he may some time grow into.

On this particular day I happen to mention all the family were sitting in the front yard of their jungle home trying to keep cool, and, as it was about as hot as four Fourths of July rolled into one, they didn’t make much trunkway—pshaw! I mean headway, but when you’re talking of elephants, trunks do seem so appropriate.

Mother Elephant swished her palm leaf fan and father and Uncle Abner Elephant fussed and grunted and rubbed against trees and told Oliver Elephant for mercy sake to keep quiet and not ask questions.

So Oliver, who was just as warm as they were, decided to go for a swim, where he could ask the river people as many questions as he pleased.

He went himpety-humping through the thick brush wishing he would meet his cousin, Tommy Tapir, but no Tommy showed up and, as he lived a long way off, Oliver Elephant preferred swimming alone to fetching him.

A little rustle behind him made him prick up his ears, and there, tiptoeing after him, was a little gentle-eyed deer.

Now, Uncle Abner had taught Oliver to be polite to all creatures smaller than himself and to take no sass from creatures bigger than himself. This was a very good rule and, as the little ones were a lot more numerous than the bigger ones, Oliver was always finding reasons to be polite.

Besides, the deer, Oliver felt, belonged in his family—eating as they did only roots and grasses and not, like the lions and tigers, dining upon their weaker brothers.

“Howdy!” rumbled Oliver. “Where’s your mammy?” The little creature trotted along beside him and explained that its mammy was sick; so “I am going alone for a drink!”

“All right!” chuckled Oliver, “let’s go alone together!” So they did, and the deer told Oliver what a big strong fellow he was and how happy he must be not to have to run away from anything.

“A chap as big as you would never get scared!” And Oliver puffed out his chest and said, “Indeed, not!” and just dared anything to scare him.

And by and by they came to the river. “You take your drink first!” suggested Oliver politely, “’cause when I get in it will be all muddy!”

The little deer trotted obediently down to the water’s edge and Oliver hooked his trunk up in the branch of a tree and stood waiting.

Then all at once he began to shake all over—and no wonder—the branch wasn’t hard as it should have been at all. It was soft—it was alive!

Oliver Elephant could hardly keep from screaming, but before he could budge a hissing came thru the trees.

“Move and I’ll twine around your neck and choke the breath out of you; keep still, it’s the deer I’m after!”

Just then the deer came bounding toward Oliver.

“Now I shall watch you swim!” it cried gayly. “Now—”

Down swung an arch of glistening copper, and around the small creature coiled the terrible folds. It was a python, almost twenty-five feet long.

Piteously the deer looked at Oliver and Oliver, trembling in every limb, looked back.

“Why hadn’t he trumpeted—why?”

“Because you were afraid!” Accusingly his conscience answered for him and in the same instant he stopped trembling. That little fellow had said he never was scared; all right, he wasn’t scared—and just to reassure himself he raised his trunk and trumpeted till the ground trembled.

The gaze of the python, fixed on the helpless deer, wavered; the little animal with its whole heart  in its eyes, struggled feebly in the ever-tightening coils.

Oliver plunged forward. The great snake flattened its head and unconsciously relaxed its hold on its victim. Without giving himself time to get more scared Oliver Elephant kept on coming, making as much noise as he could (and an elephant can make a tremendous noise).

When he got right close to the snake Oliver turned out and went behind it. The python hissing with fury turned its head to see what he was about and when it saw him bearing down—this time with the unmistakable purpose of tramping on him, he let go of the deer and slid with almost uncanny speed up and around the massive tree trunk. The tip of his tail was too slow, however, and down came Oliver’s big foot upon it—ugh!

“And that will be about all from you!” rumbled Oliver Elephant. And it was. The snake drew the rest of its tail up with a jerk and Oliver and the trembling little deer went on back through the jungle. “Don’t ever go for a drink by yourself again!” warned the big little elephant. And it never did.

“Did you have a good time?” asked Uncle Abner Elephant, as Oliver came puffing in.

“Pshaw. Now—I forgot all about it!” spluttered Oliver Elephant. “You see--,” and here he told them what had happened, just as I have told you. And the three big elephants were so proud that they almost burst the buttons off their clothes, but they didn’t say so, my, no!

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, June 9, 1918

Turn-About Schools in Supposyville

The schools are shut all through the land
’Cept in Supposyville.
You’ll doubtless be surprised to learn
That theirs are open still.

But, then, surprises are the rule
That proves the whole exception.
(That sounds a little twisted, but
I think ’twill bear inspection.)

However, as I just remarked,
Surprises are surprises,
And in Supposyville they come
In many shapes and sizes.

The schools are open, I repeat,
Ho, ho! And every day
Some boys or girls come back to teach
The teachers how to play!

All benches, desks and boards are gone,
The games have honor places,
And now the art of spinning tops,
Of marbles, jacks and races

Are taught in all their branches—
Skipping rope and fast bean bag,
Hockey, dolls, old maids, jackstraws,
Hopscotch and hearts and tag.

Copyright © 2023 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023


By W. W. Denslow
Illustrator of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Father Goose: His Book, Dot and Tot of Merryland, etc.

Originally published November 17, 1901.


Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, June 2, 1918
Children's Day in Supposyville

Among the other charming days,
Delightful and delectable,
To find a Children’s Day is quite
Supposish and expectable.

And things are just reversed, my dears,
And parents take the places
Of little boys and girls and have
To wash their hands and faces.

And in Supposyville that day
No one says “No” or “Sha’n’t”
To any little boy or girl;
Nor “Stop!” nor “don’t!” nor “Can’t!”

The grown folks run the errands and
The grown folks do the chores,
And fetch the cows and make the bows
And answer bells and doors.

The children start the day by lying
Late in bed, and then,
Without a thought of soap or water,
Dress at nine or ten.

And minus shoes and stockings hie
Them forth to hill and wood,
With no one to correct them, nor
To tell them to be good.

Perhaps this wouldn’t be quite safe
In any place but this,
But in Supposyville things never,
Never go amiss!

And so on Children’s Day the boys
And girls roam up and down—
Even the good King abdicates
And lets them have his crown

And sit upon his big, high throne;
And in the castle court
Are swings and rings and other things
Of fascinating sort.

Merry-go-rounds and ponies
To be ridden, and toy boats
That can be guided with long poles
Around the castle moats.

The children eat just any time
And stay up late as ten,
Or half-past, or eleven, and
No one says bed; so then

They fall asleep where’er they be,
And then the grown-ups come
And gather in the weary crop
Of little chicks. Ho—hum!

And though they won’t admit it, and
It may seem strange to you,
They think they’re going to like this day
Much better than they do!

Copyright © 2023 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 1, 2023


By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of Handy Mandy in Oz, "The Wizard of Pumperdink," "King, King! Double King!" etc.

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, August 30, 1914.

This is the story of a pear who fell in love with a peach! It all happened because the pear and peach tree mothers WOULD chat over the garden wall! While they were discussing the weather, the east wind and things like that, their two finest children were bobbing and ducking at one another in a shocking fashion.

The pear thought he had never seen so fair a lady as the radiant peach (indeed, she was the very finest peach on the tree). What the peach thought of the pear I cannot tell you, but, at any rate, she danced in her most heart-breaking fashion. The poor pear almost wrenched himself from his branch, so as not to lose sight of her for even a second.

That NIGHT, when all the other peaches and pears had retired under their leaves and gone to sleep, the finest pear was still awake. So was the finest peach. They said a good bit to each other in their peach and pear way, and at last the pear asked the peach to run off with him. She said that she would. “We’ll travel all over the garden,” said he, “and you will never need to be eaten up at ALL. I tell you, we will be a handsome pair! But now, when I count three, make ready to jump, and I will jump, also!” (I think he called her Sweetheart, but I am not sure.)

“One!” began the pear, swinging gently, “Two! Now, then, are you ready?” he called at last, and DOWN he went crashing through the leaves to the ground.

But what of the peach? My dears—she never jumped at all, but danced more gaily than ever up in the tree. “Ho! Ho! Mr. Pear,” she called wickedly, “I hope you are not very much smashed!” The pear answered never a word, for he was smashed to bits indeed. And the sad reason of it all was this—the peach under all of her rosy blushes had a heart of STONE—and the pear—the pear had a soft spot in his side.

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, May 26, 1918

Spring Housecleaning in Supposyville

The tang of suds is in the air,
Of paint and tar and putty,
And woe betide all dust and rust
And everything that’s smutty!

Supposyville’s so thorough that
When once it starts a-cleaning
It sends the winter’s dinginess
Like autumn leaves careening.

The good dames mobilize and, armed
With brushes, soap and pails,
Are followed by the men folks
Weighted down with paint and nails.

The army of invasion takes
The kingdom quite by storm.
From end to end, from house to house
The good Supposies swarm.

And not a spot is left unscrubbed,
Unburnished, unrepaired;
Not even roofs or hidden grooves
Or puppy dogs are spared.

The Queen, with sleeves rolled up, is in
The window-washing group;
Sir Solomon Tremendous Wise
He bosses the whole troop.

The King, who simply loves to paint,
Now wields a brush with vim;
His crown awry, himself perched high
On swinging board so slim.

I tremble for the folks below—
Ah, well! The rope is strong,
And in Supposyville they never
Nurse their bruises long.

And would you just believe it, dears
And ducks, all through this season
They carry umbrellas, and,
I say, ’tis done with reason.

For water gushes from the roofs
And charges out each door;
From every shingle, ledge and wedge
Cascades of soapsuds pour.

But, oh! they have the finest lark.
I wonder, honeys, whether
We’ll ever learn to work that way,
All happily together.

Copyright © 2023 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 3, 2023


By W. W. Denslow
Illustrator of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Father Goose: His Book, Dot and Tot of Merryland, etc.

Originally published November 10, 1901.



Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, May 19, 1918
Sir Solomon Tremendous Wise Answers All the Whys

Sir Solomon Tremendous Wise
Gets such a lot of mail,
He sends his footman for it with
Two knapsacks and a pail.

For all Supposies think he knows
Just every why and wherefore,
Each rhyme and reason and because
And every single therefore.

And patiently Sir Solomon,
With specs upon his nose,
Goes through the lot to see what new
Inquiries ’twill disclose.

His quill pen splutters valiantly
Their questions to unravel,
Upon my word, sweethearts, my loves,
That old quill pen can travel.

They say he uses pails of ink
(His writing is so large)
And miles of paper, which the King
Supplies him free of charge.

Each morning in his study there
He writes and writes and writes,
And then to finish up the rest
Sometimes he works at nights.

It’s pretty good of him, I think;
And when the children there
Ask questions vexing and perplexing,
Parents don’t despair!

They just refer the matter to
Old Solomon, and never
Has he been stumped or failed to give
A jolly answer ever.

“Now, why do bills and hills run up?
And why do clocks run down?
Why is the sky so often blue
Instead of merely brown?

“Why am I bald? And how can shoes
Be kept from wearing out?
And could you send a remedy
For me? I’m much too stout!

“How is it that the trees put forth
Their blossoms ’fore the fruit?”
And Solomon he finds them all
A reason just to suit.

“You’re bald, dear sir, because your head
Is such a splendid one—
’Twould never do to hide from view!”
“For stoutness roll and run!”

Do thus and so and so and thus,
Sir Solomon advises.
It is a mystery to me
Why Solomon so wise is!
Copyright © 2023 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.


Saturday, August 5, 2023


By Ruth Plumly Thompson

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, June 4, 1916.

“Mother,” said little Jack Rabbit wiggling his nose very fast, “where did Brother Kingfisher get his beautiful coat?”

“That’s an old, old story,” observed Mother Rabbit, glancing over to where Johnny Kingfisher was lunching. It surely was a comical way to lunch. There he sat, his chair a rock and the whole river his table, and he kept looking and looking down at the river; then suddenly, IN would go his long beak and next minute a fish would be tossed into the air and swallowed head foremost. Ugh! No salt or pepper even! I hope he never invites me to lunch—that is all I hope! Well, well, here we are getting away from Jack Rabbit’s question, and Mother Rabbit will have finished the story if we don’t watch out. What is she saying?

“—let him out of the ark.” Goody two shoes—we HAVE missed a lot already, but luckily I know the story, too, and it goes in this way: Long, long ago, when Noah let the animals and birds out of the ark, the kingfisher was a dull gray. But as soon as he was set free he flew straight toward the setting sun, and his back took on the hue of the sky and his under side the colors of the setting sun—chestnut red—and from that day on all kingfishers’ feathers have had all the wonderful hues of the sky and of the sunset.

“Humph!” said little Jack Rabbit when his mother had finished the story. “Where did YOU go, mother?”

“How old do you think I am?” snorted Mrs. Rabbit indignantly.

“Children should be seen and not heard!” she added hastily—but I know where the little Jack Rabbit went when it was set free from the ark. It burrowed into the dusty brown earth as fast as it could go, and since then all jack rabbits have been a brownish yellow. Really!


Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, May 12, 1918

 Another Experiment of Solomon Tremendous Wise

Sir Solomon Tremendous Wise
Sat drowsing ’neath the trees,
Lulled to indifference by the spring’s
Mild, sleep-compelling breeze!
“Ah, ho!” he yawned; “Ha, ho, ha, hum!”
Spring days would be more sprightly
If not so full of sandman’s dust,
For sleep by day’s unsightly!”
He shook himself determinedly,
Resolved to keep awake.
“If I could just invent a way
Spring’s drowsy spell to break,”
He murmured. Then all suddenly
An idea came a-flashing
Across the ramparts of his brain,
Next minute he was dashing
Off to his tower; there he made
A queer balloonish silken bag
A-fastened to a huge kite frame.
With lengthy knotted tail to wag.
He sailed his kite balloon up high,
Then low, then up and down,
In all the meadows, woods and lanes
And lastly, in the town.
And wonderful to say, my ducks,
The more he sailed it there,
The less and less folks yawned and gaped—
They stepped with lively air.
The horses plowing in the fields
Began to prance and canter;
The good Supposies dozing on
The benches waked instanter.
For Solomon Tremendous Wise
Had captured in his bag, dears,
The grains of sleepiness that make
One want to yawn and sag, dears.
Enchanted with his great success,
Old Solomon went hying
Off to the castle to inform
His Majesty, a-flying
The big silk bag behind him. And
The King was so delighted
He gave Sir Solomon a hug
(He was already knighted).
But, oh, alas! While they in talk
Engaged, a little bird, dears,
Pecked at the bag. It burst with an
Explosion that was heard, dears,
For miles and miles. That’s not the worst.
The grains of sleep went flying,
And in a trice Supposies fell
And slept where they were lying
In courtyard and in lane and field
And house, and like the roaring
Of twenty dozen engines you
Could hear that Kingdom snoring.
And so much concentrated sleep
Was in that old balloon, dears,
They never wakened till that day
Two weeks—at half-past noon, dears.
Sir Solomon he shook his head,
And climbing on his horse
Allowed that after this he’d just
Let nature take her course.

Copyright © 2023 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Monday, July 31, 2023


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

From the stage musical The Tik-Tok Man of Oz, 1913, cut before production.

Presented here to celebrate the July 2023 publication of All Wound Up: The Making of The Tik-Tok Man of Oz by Eric Shanower.


Some ginks don’t have no luck at all-
            They back-fire ev’ry time.
        That’s me. If I fall off a wall
            Folks think it is a crime.
If I wear stockings, all the stocks go sliding below par;
If I should own an auto it would bump a trolley-car;
If I got anybody’s goat ’twould get-me--butt behind!--
            That’s me. But never mind.
                                    I got a grouch.

    Ah, bah, this life’s a stupid game;
And when I get to Hades I will find the devil tame.
I ain’t abit unsociable--ner haughty--means ner small--
    I ain’t no slouch. I got a grouch.
                                    That’s all.

        One time I loved a widow; she
            Was pretty as could be;
        She told me she had lots of dough
            And she would marry me.
She said at twenty she’d be my bride. I had an awful shock
For when I reached the church at ten my face had stopped the clock.
The wedding hour it never came, and yet I never whined.
            That’s me. But never mind.
                                    I got a grouch.

    Ah, bah! the widow never came;
It didn’t break my heart, but I was grouchy just the same;
It soured my disposition, but I didn’t weep nor squall.
            I ain’t no slouch. I got a grouch.
                                    That’s all.

        One time one of my rich uncs
            Was kind enough to die;
        He left me half a million plunks
            A pretty good supply.
But some one didn’t like the will and threw it into court;
The lawyers argued seven years and had a lot of sport
It cost me all my fortune, for the law is so unkind--
            That’s me. But never mind.
                                    I got a grouch.

    Ah, bah! who cares a cuss for wealth!
A lot of jingles in your pants don’t help a fellow’s health.
You don’t catch me bewailin’ ’cause my bank account is small--
            I ain’t no slouch. I got a grouch.
                                    That’s all.

Originally published in the Oakland Tribune, May 5, 1918
The Supposyville Post
I don't like to boast,
But, my ducks, 'tis the most
Enchanting—. What is? Why,
The S'posyville Post!

It comes out with the sun
And it's printed in pink
And chock full of chuckles
In bright colored ink.

There are pictures and patterns
And comic revues;
In fact, there is everything
'Ceptin' bad news!

And bad news is so skeerce
In that Kingdom of Smiles
You'd have to go scouting
For hundreds of miles

To run down an item;
And why waste the time
When there's plenty of good news
That's newsy and prime?

The Post's jolly editor,
I. Makem Laugh,
Is assisted and helped
By a talented staff.

And all over the kingdom
They gallop to find
Who is who and what's new
Or to newness inclined.

You don't have to be
A High This or High That,
Just so you've some brain cells
Tucked under your hat.

You will find a safe place
In the S'posyville Post
If you make a good pudding
Or cook a good roast,

Or help out your neighbors
Or make a high mark
In your school work, or feed
A stray dog in the park.

The staff finds it out, dears,
And one never knows
Just what the Supposyville
Post will disclose.

As for nonsense and rhymes, dears,
Quaint jokes, quips and fun,
There isn't a journal
Can rank with this one.

No wonder Supposies
Begin each new day
Brimful of good cheer.
Gee! wish I felt that way!

Copyright © 2023 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Thursday, June 1, 2023


By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of The Cowardly Lion of Oz, "The Wizard of Pumperdink", "King, King! Double King!", etc.

Published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, October 22, 1916.

Down in the little warm brown house underground, in the sitting room that lay at the end of the long winding hallway, Mrs. Jack Rabbit and the six little Jack Rabbits cuddled cozily together, for Mr. Jack had whispered to Mrs. Jack that old Auntie Fox was snooping round their house and for her to keep the children indoors.

He had brought them some nice crisp leaves to nibble, and Mrs. Jack was wiggling her nose and scratching her head in an effort to think up a new story to keep the children interested. Daddy was dozing in the doorway; at least, he pretended to be; but, really, he was keeping watch with one eye and listening to Mrs. Jack Rabbit’s story with one ear.

“Ahem,” began Mrs. Jack, twitching her ears. “Once upon a time a little red frog lived in a house deep down in the ground, where he could find plenty of worms, he being very fond of worm pie, and one day—”

“First time I ever heard of a red frog,” grunted Mr. Jack, opening the other eye and wiggling his nose terribly fast. “RED FROG! HA, HA!” Mr. Rabbit shook up and down.

“And one day,” continued Mrs. Jack, paying no attention to Mr. Jack’s rudeness, “The little red frog climbed the fifty brown steps that led up to the outside world and went hopping along the road; and he was so busy looking up at the sky and wondering whether or not it would rain that he never saw the great deep precipice that he was coming to, and–” The little rabbits all wiggled their noses and winked their eyes, but Mrs. Jack went on nibbling leaves as though she had forgotten all about the little red frog and the precipice.

“And what?” snapped Mr. Jack, thumping with his hind feet as a signal to Mr. Bob Rabbit, a neighbor who lived above, that all was well. “And what?”

“Why,” said Mrs. Jack slowly, “he tumbled over the precipice head over feet and landed with a thump on the rocks and—” “Did he hurt himself, mother?” asked Benny Rabbit anxiously. “And broke his RIB!” finished Mrs. Jack with a triumphant glance at Mr. Jack.

“Rib!” screamed Mr. Jack, as if that were the funniest word he had ever heard. “HIS RIB!” and over and over rolled Daddy Jack Rabbit, kicking his heels and roaring with merriment, and because he laughed, all the children laughed and echoed “RIB!” Mrs. Jack was displeased. She put her ears back, and wiggling her nose very fast, wanted to know at what they were laughing.

All the little rabbits grew very solemn and looked at Mr. Jack, but Mr. Jack kept chuckling and rolling over and muttering to himself, and at last he sat up and wiped his eyes. “I don’t reckon the little red frog was hurt much,” said he to Benny Jack Rabbit. “Leastways, not if he broke his rib, ’cause—ha! ha!—frogs don’t have any ribs!”

And that’s all I know of the story of the red frog that broke his rib.

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, April 28, 1918

Supposyville Goes A-Maying

Aho! in lovely spring, my ducks,
One has no need of bells,
Alarms or shocks or tiresome clocks
For waking up. She tells
’Tis rising time delightfully.
Spring sets the birds a-singing,
And Mr. Sun his golden beams
Betimes abroad is flinging!

And in Supposyville, as here,
The people rise with pleasure,
For each spring hour is a gift
To live and love and treasure.
And on this certain balmy morn
They even beat the sun
At rising, and ’tis not surprising,
For this day is one

Of special joy and jollity.
Aho! now ’tis a gay day;
’Tis flower-crowned and gowned—renowned,
Delicious merry May Day!
And every one off to the woods
Light-heartedly goes hying
To pick the sweet spring flowers there
That need no gold for buying.

And he who finds the sweetest ones
And she who has the fairest
Bouquet that day rule o’er the May;
And truly ’tis the rarest
Delight to be Queen of the May
And King of Spring. The green, dears,
Presents the gayest picture that
You’ve really ever seen, dears.

The May Pole, ribboned and beflowered,
Standing high and festive;
The fiddlers fiddling till the oldest
Soul grows gayly restive.
Yes, there they spend the happiest
And most delightful May Day
You ever could imagine, loves;
A high day and a heyday!
Copyright © 2023 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.

Monday, May 1, 2023


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 Mother Goose in Prose, 1896.


Sing a song o’ sixpence, a handful of rye,
Four-and-twenty blackbirds baked in a pie;
When the pie was opened the birds began to sing,
Wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before the King?

If you have never heard the legend of Gilligren and the King’s pie you will scarcely understand the above verse; so I will tell you the whole story, and then you will be able to better appreciate the rhyme.

Gilligren was an orphan, and lived with an uncle and aunt who were very unkind to him. They cuffed him and scolded him upon the slightest provocation, and made his life very miserable indeed. Gilligren never rebelled against this treatment, but bore their cruelty silently and with patience, although often he longed to leave them and seek a home amongst kinder people.

It so happened that when Gilligren was twelve years old the King died, and his son was to be proclaimed King in his place, and crowned with great ceremony. People were flocking to London from all parts of the country, to witness the festivities, and the boy longed to go with them.

One evening he said to his uncle,

“If I had sixpence I could make my fortune.”

“Pooh! nonsense!” exclaimed his uncle, “a sixpence is a small thing. How then could you make a fortune from it?”

“That I cannot tell you,” replied Gilligren, “but if you will give me the sixpence I will go to London, and not return until I am a rich man.”

“The boy is a fool!” said his uncle, with anger; but the aunt spoke up quickly.

“Give him the money and let him go,” she said, “and then we shall be well rid of him and no longer be obliged to feed and clothe him at our expense.”

“Well,” said her husband, after a moment’s thought, “here is the money; but remember, this is all I shall ever give you, and when it is gone you must not come to me for more.”

“Never fear,” replied Gilligren, joyfully, as he put the sixpence in his pocket, “I shall not trouble you again.”

The next morning he cut a short stick to assist him in walking, and after bidding good-bye to his uncle and aunt he started upon his journey to London.

“The money will not last him two days,” said the man, as he watched Gilligren go down the turnpike road, “and when it is gone he will starve to death.”

“Or he may fall in with people who will treat him worse than we did,” rejoined the woman, “and then he’ll wish he had never left us.”

But Gilligren, nothing dismayed by thoughts of the future, trudged bravely along the London road. The world was before him, and the bright sunshine glorified the dusty road and lightened the tips of the dark green hedges that bordered his path. At the end of his pilgrimage was the great city, and he never doubted he would find therein proper work and proper pay, and much better treatment than he was accustomed to receive.

So, on he went, whistling merrily to while away the time, watching the sparrows skim over the fields, and enjoying to the full the unusual sights that met his eyes. At noon he overtook a carter, who divided with the boy his luncheon of bread and cheese, and for supper a farmer’s wife gave him a bowl of milk. When it grew dark he crawled under a hedge and slept soundly until dawn.

The next day he kept steadily upon his way, and toward evening met a farmer with a wagon loaded with sacks of grain.

“Where are you going, my lad?” asked the man.

“To London,” replied Gilligren, “to see the King crowned.”

“Have you any money?” enquired the farmer.

“Oh yes,” answered Gilligren, “I have a sixpence.”

“If you will give me the sixpence,” said the man, “I will give you a sack of rye for it.”

“What could I do with a sack of rye?” asked Gilligren, wonderingly.

“Take it to the mill, and get it ground into flour. With the flour you could have bread baked, and that you can sell.”

“That is a good idea,” replied Gilligren, “so here is my sixpence, and now give me the sack of rye.”

The farmer put the sixpence carefully into his pocket, and then reached under the seat of the wagon and drew out a sack, which he cast on the ground at the boy’s feet.

“There is your sack of rye,” he said, with a laugh.

“But the sack is empty!” remonstrated Gilligren.

“Oh, no; there is some rye in it.”

“But only a handful!” said Gilligren, when he had opened the mouth of the sack and gazed within it.

“It is a sack of rye, nevertheless,” replied the wicked farmer, “and I did not say how much rye there would be in the sack I would give you. Let this be a lesson to you never again to buy grain without looking into the sack!” and with that he whipped up his horses and left Gilligren standing in the road with the sack at his feet and nearly ready to cry at his loss.

“My sixpence is gone,” he said to himself, “and I have received nothing in exchange but a handful of rye! How can I make my fortune with that?”

He did not despair, however, but picked up the sack and continued his way along the dusty road. Soon it became too dark to travel farther, and Gilligren stepped aside into a meadow, where, lying down upon the sweet grass, he rolled the sack into a pillow for his head and prepared to sleep.

The rye that was within the sack, however, hurt his head, and he sat up and opened the sack.

“Why should I keep a handful of rye?” he thought, “It will be of no value to me at all.”

So he threw out the rye upon the ground, and rolling up the sack again for a pillow, was soon sound asleep.

When he awoke the sun was shining brightly over his head and the twitter and chirping of many birds fell upon his ears. Gilligren opened his eyes and saw a large flock of blackbirds feeding upon the rye he had scattered upon the ground. So intent were they upon their feast they never noticed Gilligren at all.

He carefully unfolded the sack, and spreading wide its opening threw it quickly over the flock of blackbirds. Some escaped and flew away, but a great many were caught, and Gilligren put his eye to the sack and found he had captured four and twenty. He tied the mouth of the sack with a piece of twine that was in his pocket, and then threw the sack over his shoulder and began again his journey to London.

“I have made a good exchange, after all,” he thought, “for surely four and twenty blackbirds are worth more than a handful of rye, and perhaps even more than a sixpence, if I can find anyone who wishes to buy them.”

He now walked rapidly forward, and about noon entered the great city of London.

Gilligren wandered about the streets until he came to the King’s palace, where there was a great concourse of people and many guards to keep intruders from the gates.

Seeing he could not enter from the front, the boy walked around to the rear of the palace and found himself near the royal kitchen, where the cooks and other servants were rushing around to hasten the preparation of the King’s dinner.

Gilligren sat down upon a stone where he could watch them, and laying the sack at his feet was soon deeply interested in the strange sight.

Presently a servant in the King’s livery saw him and came to his side.

“What are you doing here?” he asked, roughly.

“I am waiting to see the King,” replied Gilligren.

“The King! The King never comes here,” said the servant; “and neither do we allow idlers about the royal kitchen. So depart at once, or I shall be forced to call a guard to arrest you.”

Gilligren arose obediently and slung his sack over his shoulder. As he did so the birds that were within began to flutter.

“What have you in the sack?” asked the servant.

“Blackbirds,” replied Gilligren.

“Blackbirds!” echoed the servant, in surprise, “well, that is very fortunate indeed. Come with me at once!” He seized the boy by the arm and drew him hastily along until they entered the great kitchen of the palace.

“Here, Mister Baker!” the man called, excitedly, “I have found your blackbirds!”

A big, fat man who was standing in the middle of the kitchen with folded arms and a look of despair upon his round, greasy face, at once came toward them and asked eagerly,

“The blackbirds? are you sure you can get them?”

“They are here already; the boy has a bag full of them.”

“Give them to me,” said the cook, who wore a square cap, that was shaped like a box, upon his head.

“What do you want with them?” asked Gilligren.

“I want them for a pie for the King’s dinner,” answered Mister Baker; “His Majesty ordered the dish, and I have hunted all over London for the blackbirds, but could not find them. Now that you have brought them, however, you have saved me my position as cook, and perhaps my head as well.”

“But it would be cruel to put the beautiful birds in a pie,” remonstrated Gilligren, “and I shall not give them to you for such a purpose.”

“Nonsense!” replied the cook, “the King has ordered it; he is very fond of the dish.”

“Still, you cannot have them,” declared the boy stoutly, “the birds are mine, and I will not have them killed.”

“But what can I do?” asked the cook, in perplexity; “the King has ordered a blackbird pie, and your birds are the only blackbirds in London.”

Gilligren thought deeply for a moment, and conceived what he thought to be a very good idea. If the sixpence was to make his fortune, then this was his great opportunity.

“You can have the blackbirds on two conditions,” he said.

“What are they?” asked the cook.

“One is that you will not kill the birds. The other condition is that you secure me a position in the King’s household.”

“How can I put live birds in a pie?” enquired the cook.

“Very easily, if you make the pie big enough to hold them. You can serve the pie after the King has satisfied his hunger with other dishes, and it will amuse the company to find live birds in the pie when they expected cooked ones.”

“It is a risky experiment,” exclaimed the cook, “for I do not know the new King’s temper. But the idea may please His Majesty, and since you will not allow me to kill the birds, it is the best thing I can do. As for your other condition, you seem to be a very bright boy, and so I will have the butler take you as his page, and you shall stand back of the King’s chair and keep the flies away while he eats.”

The butler being called, and his consent secured, the cook fell to making the crusts for his novel pie, while Gilligren was taken to the servants’ hall and dressed in a gorgeous suit of the King’s livery.

When the dinner was served, the King kept looking for the blackbird pie, but he said nothing, and at last the pie was placed before him, its crusts looking light and brown, and sprigs of myrtle being stuck in the four corners to make it look more inviting.

Although the King had already eaten heartily, he smacked his lips when he saw this tempting dish, and picking up the carving-fork he pushed it quickly into the pie.

At once the crust fell in, and all the four and twenty blackbirds put up their heads and began to look about them. And coming from the blackness of the pie into the brilliantly lighted room they thought they were in the sunshine, and began to sing merrily, while some of the boldest hopped out upon the table or began flying around the room.

At first the good King was greatly surprised; but soon, appreciating the jest, he lay back in his chair and laughed long and merrily. And his courtiers and the fine ladies present heartily joined in the laughter, for they also were greatly amused.

Then the King called for the cook, and when Mister Baker appeared, uncertain of his reception, and filled with many misgivings, His Majesty cried,

“Sirrah! how came you to think of putting live birds in the pie?”

The cook, fearing that the King was angry, answered,

“May it please your Majesty, it was not my thought, but the idea of the boy who stands behind your chair.”

The King turned his head, and seeing Gilligren, who looked very well in his new livery, he said,

“You are a clever youth, and deserve a better position than that of a butler’s lad. Hereafter you shall be one of my own pages, and if you serve me faithfully I will advance your fortunes with your deserts.”

And Gilligren did serve the King faithfully, and as he grew older acquired much honor and great wealth.

“After all,” he used to say, “that sixpence made my fortune. And it all came about through such a small thing as a handful of rye!”

Originally published in the Oakland Tribune, April 21, 1918

Spring Sports in Supposyville

Oh, dears and ducks, my precious loves!
Now, would you like to hear
Some more about Supposeyville?
Then ’spose you just draw near.

Pshaw! ’tother day somehow, some way
A book came whizzing down
And landed in the queerest place.
Yes, on the good King’s crown.

Somewhat amazed, a little dazed,
He pulled it off his head.
“What gale or cyclone blew this here?”
The merry monarch said.

“But since ’tis here and forcibly’s
Been brought to my attention,
I’ll just glance through it and find out
What matters it may mention!”

And while the Queen poured hamamelis
On the bump it raised,
The King put on his specs and on
The print and pictures gazed.

Then all at once he gave a leap
And off he blithely bounded,
While Queen and courtiers stand around
Confused and quite confounded.

On Solomon Tremendous Wise
He burst, all out of puff:
“Please copy these, my good old friend,
And see that there’re enough

For every once, including me
And pray, sir, don’t be long.
Ahem! and when you come to mine
Just make ’em good and strong!”

In just about a week from them
The strangest clatter sounded,
And little squeaks and frightened shrieks
At dangerous corners rounded.

Upon my word, both old and young,
In manner far and agile,
Were roller skating, and I’m glad
They were not overfragile.

The gentle art learned late in life
Is often fraught with shocks, dears;
With sundry sudden sittings down
And unexpected knocks, dears.

But, oh! the great delight and glee
When once the art they master.
I don’t believe that even YOU
Skate better now or faster!

“To think,” exclaimed the Queen, “That we’ve
Ne’er known of skates before.
I’m glad that funny book blew in
And hope we’ll get some more.”
(We ought to send them some, don’t you think?)
Copyright © 2023 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.


Sunday, April 2, 2023


By Ruth Plumly Thompson
Author of The Wishing Horse of Oz, "The Wizard of Pumperdink", "King, King! Double King!", etc.

Published in the Houston (TX) Post, September 12, 1915.

Uncle Abner had gone hunting. Oliver Elephant and Tommy Tapir had begged and begged, but “You’re too small—why, you wouldn’t have sense to run if Shaggy Lion charged—or a Two Leg. No, I will not take you with me and that’s all there is to it!” Uncle Abner had said. “Run! I guess not! I don’t know just exactly what I WOULD do, but I would NOT run,” Oliver had said indignantly, but Uncle Abner would not relent.

There had been reports in the Jungle Ledger that the Two Legs were seen near the jungle, but Uncle Abner did not worry himself about that. After a journey of about two days, in the early evening, while he was taking a fine roll in some soft, oozy mud, the most horrifying noises broke out and torches and dancing brown bodies seemed to almost surround him. “The Two Legs,” thought Uncle Abner Elephant. “NOW is the time to run away!” and turning he plunged in the only direction that was free from the noise and lights.

On and on he ran through the forest until bang!—BUMP—his head went crashing into a solid wall of logs. Madly he tore around the inclosure searching for an opening, but the wily black men had closed the huge gate and Uncle Abner was fairly trapped.

Once again that dreadful night the gate was opened and a small elephant came crashing into the stockade, and Uncle Abner, quiet by that time, walking over to sympathize with the newcomer, found Oliver Elephant crying as if his heart would break. “You—t—t—told me to run—and I DID. And now how in the jungle world are we going to get out?” “Never mind, Oliver Elephant, we’ll—!” began Uncle Abner, but Oliver Elephant almost shrieked, “Don’t talk to me—I want to THINK!” And he thought and thought and thought, waving his big ears and swaying from side to side. In the very early morning he crept over to Uncle Abner and unfolded a plan to him.

So it happened that when the mahouts came in the morning they found two very tame elephants in the stockade, who allowed the chain to be put on their feet without any resistance and who tried in every elephant way to make them understand that they wished to be friends. “The largest and the smallest, but the tamest we have ever caught,” the men said to each other.

A week went by uneventfully and then the looked-for day came to Oliver and Uncle Abner. The chain was unfastened and, together with the tame elephants, they were led down to the river for a bath, a mahout on the head of each elephant. Lazily Uncle Abner swam out, with Oliver Elephant close behind him. Playfully they filled their trunks with water and gave their mahout a shower bath, and then, watching their opportunity, each elephant ducked suddenly and, turning, grasped the black men and threw them far toward the land—and before the rest of the party knew what to do they were climbing up the opposite bank and tearing through the jungle as fast as only an elephant can.

By running evenly and not stopping for either food or rest, they reached home in the early morning of the following day, where Mother and Father Elephant, who had given them up for lost, wept for joy and gave them lovely fresh hay to eat and were so happy to see them again that they did not even scold Oliver for running away with Uncle Abner.

“Just the same,” said Oliver Elephant, when he was telling Tommy Tapir about it, “I learned one thing. NEVER run from a thing you are afraid of. One of the tame elephants told me that if we had charged the men instead of running just the way they wanted us to we would have upset all their plans and scared them so we would have gotten safely away. No more running for me. I’d rather face the music.”

Originally published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, April 14, 1918

Supposyville’s Boys and Girls

Supposyville is quite unlike
The countries that we know of.
It must be a delicious place
To play and stay and grow, love!

They think of boys and girls in that
Quaint kingdom as they should.
No wonder that they’re merry and
So very, VERY good.

The King has glanced through all the books
And rules and regulations
On raising children practiced in
The foremost Christian nations.

And he and Solomon Tremendous
Wise were sadly shaken
To find a great majority
Of theories quite mistaken.

“Why, boys and girls are like the birds
And flowers. Lots of sun
And love and air and happiness
And just old-fashioned fun

“Is what they need. Too many rules,
Too many don’ts and can’ts
Will chill the lads and lassies
Like the winter frosts the plants.

“Our treasures are our children,
And I want them understood;
And here our plans will be to make
It easy to be good!”

Thus saying did the good King many
A jolly scheme devise.
Assisted by the keen old head
Of Solomon Tremendous Wise.

And first of all they changed the motto
Which so many tears
Relentlessly have drawn and sent
Cascading down the years!

You will remember it, I’m sure.
’Tis, “Spare the rod and spoil the child.”
Upon the so few law books of
Supposyville in manner mild,

With all the stings withdrawn it reads
Thus: “Spare the child and spoil the rod,”
And no one finds it any ways
Remarkable or queer or odd.

They haven’t any dismal signs—
No “Get off of the grasses,”
“Beware of Watchdogs” and “The law
Will deal with all trespasses!”

And what is more, they never whip
Small boys for going swimming.
“’Tis just an instinct to be clean
And spirits overbrimming,”

The King declared, and fixed the pools
With diving boards and slides, dears,
And gave them unexpected swimming
Holidays besides, dear.

That’s why I said some fifty lines
Or maybe more ago
It is the most delicious and
Delightful place I know.
Copyright © 2023 Eric Shanower and David Maxine. All rights reserved.