- "In the shade sat a little boy dressed in sailor clothes, who was digging a hole in the earth with a broken branch. He must have been digging some time, because the hole was already big enough to drop a football into. Dorothy and Toto and the Shaggy Man came to a halt before the little boy, who kept on digging in a sober and persistent fashion. "Hello, who are you?" asked the girl. He looked up at her calmly. His face was round and chubby and his eyes were big, blue and earnest. "Hi! I'm Button-Bright," said he. "But what's your real name?" she inquired. "Button-Bright." "That isn't a really-truly name!" she exclaimed. "Isn't it?" he asked, still digging. "Course not. It's just a--a thing to call you by, like a nickname. You must have an original name." "Must I?" "To be sure. What does your mother call you?" He paused in his digging and tried to think. "Papa always said I was as cute and bright as a button; so mama always called me Button-Bright," he said. "What is your papa's name?" "Just Papa." "What else?" "Don't know." "Oh Never mind," said the Shaggy Man, smiling. "We'll call the boy Button-Bright, as his mama does. That name is as good as any, and even better than some... "
- ―The Road to Oz (1909)
|First Appearance||The Road to Oz|
Button-Bright is a very young and innocent boy who got lost and accidentally ended up in the magical Land of Oz where he had many fantastical adventures before eventually moving to Oz permanently. His real name is Saladin Paracelsus de Lambertine Evagne von Smith. But his mommy calls him Button Bright.
When he first met Dorothy Gale, Button-Bright was a very young boy. He wore a sailor suit and had curly hair, a round, chubby face and big, blue eyes. He answered most questions with "Don't know." His father said he was "bright as a button", so his mother called him Button-Bright. (The Scarecrow later hypothesized that the button they had in mind might have been covered with dull cloth.)
By the time Button-Bright met Trot and Cap'n Bill, he was a little older (though still younger than Trot), thin with a rather pale complexion. His blue eyes were round and earnest. He wore rich and expensive clothes: a blouse waist, a short jacket, and knickerbockers with fine silk stockings and tan shoes. Button-Bright is always shy, quiet and composed. Nothing is ever able to astonish him. He is never rude, but cheerful and brave and willing to do whatever is asked.
While he was lost and alone, little Button-Bright was discovered by Dorothy and the Shaggy Man sitting along the side of a road digging a hole. He accompanied them to Foxville where King Dox was so impressed with his curious nature that the king transformed the boy's head to that of a fox. When they arrived in the Land of Oz, Button-Bright bathed in the Truth Pond and regained his own head. The party traveled to the Emerald City where they attended Princess Ozma's birthday celebration. Afterward, Button-Bright traveled home in a soap bubble created by the Wizard. (The Road to Oz)
Several years later, when Button-Bright was older, he grew restless during an extended period of rain in Philadelphia. He found an umbrella in the attic and on the way to Uncle Bob's house he discovered it had the magical ability to carry him anywhere he wished. He traveled to Buffalo, Chicago, Denver, and finally California where he met Trot and Cap'n Bill. They took a picnic trip with the umbrella and found themselves on Sky Island where they were captured by the Boolooroo, who took the Magic Umbrella and made Button-Bright his Royal Bootblue.
The companions escaped through the Fog Bank and into the Pink Country, where Button-Bright was reunited with Polychrome, who made Trot the Queen of Pink Country. Trot formed an army and marched back through the fog bank to get their umbrella back. When Trot conquered the Blue skins, she became Queen of all Sky Island. The party returned home, and Button-Bright went home to Philadelphia. His father locked up the magic umbrella, so he could no longer travel; but he wrote to Trot nonetheless. (Sky Island)
Button Bright lost his magic umbrella, and found himself in the Land of Mo where he was caught in a popcorn blizzard. The Bumpy Man found him and he was reunited with Trot and Cap'n Bill and met their new friend the Ork. He traveled with them on several adventures, eventually finding themselves in Jinxland, a small country in the Land of Oz. They finally made their way to the Land of Oz proper, and Ozma invited him to stay. (The Scarecrow of Oz)
- The Road to Oz (first appearance)
- Sky Island
- The Scarecrow of Oz
- The Lost Princess of Oz
- The Magic of Oz
- Glinda of Oz
In The Scarecrow of Oz (1915), Button-Bright becomes the first American boy on record to emigrate to Oz. Thereafter he participates in two Oz adventures, The Lost Princess of Oz (1917) and Glinda of Oz (1920), in which he reveals two more boyish traits: capacious pockets and a talent for getting lost. However, Baum's designated successors largely left this character alone in their novels.
Button-Bright is often depicted wearing a sailor suit or other fashionable boys' clothing from the early 20th century. In Philadelphia he has a large house and a governess, indicating that (unlike Dorothy Gale) he comes from a wealthy American family.
Button-Bright is the protagonist of Harry Mongold's Button-Bright of Oz. He is one of the heroes of Paul Dana's Time Travelers of Oz, along with his friend Ojo. That novella's sequels, The Lost Boy of Oz, The Law of Oz and the recently published The Magic Umbrella of Oz are devoted to Button-Bright's origin story.
Button-Bright and Ojo switch bodies in Atticus Gannaway and Peter Schulenburg's The Magic Bowls of Oz. Gannaway also employs Button-Bright in his A Wonderful Journey in Oz. The boy appears again in Jeremy Steadman's The Emerald Ring of Oz.