Kabumpo in Oz is the first book in the series to have an animal in the title role. Thompson dedicated the book to her sibling Janet, "My littlest sister but my biggest assistor."
In the kingdom of Pumperdink, a small and remote spot in the northern Gillikin Country, the royal court is celebrating the eighteenth birthday of Prince Pompadore — one of the many eighteenth birthdays he has already had. Things go wrong when the cake explodes; in the debris are found a scroll and a golden-framed mirror.
The scroll reads,
- Know ye that unless ye Prince of ye ancient and honorable Kingdom of Pumperdink wed ye Proper Fairy Princess in ye proper span of time ye Kingdom of Pumperdink shall disappear forever and even longer from ye Gillikin Country of Oz.
It is signed with the initials J. G.
The mirror proves to be magic; it gives a truthful identification of whoever is reflected there. (It calls King Pompus a "Fat Old King," and Pompadore a "Charming Prince.") To keep Pumperdink from disappearing, King Pompus decrees that Pompadore must marry the thousand-year-old Faleero, the only local person who can qualify as a princess of fairy descent.
Kabumpo the Elegant Elephant, a prominent court personality, is outraged by this decree; he favors the idea of Pompadore marrying someone more suitable — like Princess Ozma of Oz. Kabumpo, crafty and amazingly light on his feet (for an elephant), manages to abduct Pompadore in his sleep that night, and carry him off toward the Emerald City. Their trip leads through those exotic places so often found in Oz; the two travelers encounter the Figureheads of Rith Metic and the living candles of the Illumi Nation.
The scene shifts to the Emerald City, or rather, under it. Ruggedo the Nome King has been living quietly in a cottage in the capital of Oz, after his last attempt at conquest (see The Magic of Oz). He has gradually regained his memory after his dose of the Water of Oblivion, and has burrowed down under the city. He is not entirely alone in his subterranean lair; a rabbit named Wag acts as his grumpy servant and companion. (Wag knows that Ruggedo is a bad character; but the Nome bribes him with thimbles, purple socks, soup spoons, and other stolen treasures.) Ruggedo also has stolen Peg Amy, a wooden doll that Cap'n Bill carved for Trot. Ruggedo shakes and slams the doll whenever he's frustrated, which is often.
In his digging, Ruggedo finds a golden box; the gems inlaid in its top spell out "Glegg's Box of Mixed Magic." The box contains a collection of magic resources, including a Question Box, and a box of "Re-animating Rays" to counter enchantments; also, vials of flying fluid, vanishing cream, and expanding extract, and other items. Ruggedo experiments with the magic; he enlarges Wag into a six-foot-tall rabbit, and Peg Amy to a four-foot-tall doll. He brings Peg Amy to life with the Re-animating Rays. The cave is suddenly overcrowded with an ecstatic doll and an angry rabbit; in a panic Ruggedo doses himself with all of the expanding extract. He grows into a giant three-quarters of a mile tall; he storms off with Ozma's palace on his head (all its inhabitants within). Wag and Peg Amy follow.
When Pompadore and Kabumpo arrive in the city, then, they confront this unprecedented situation. They too head off in pursuit of Ozma and Ruggedo; soon the two pairs of pursuers, Wag and Peg Amy and Pompadore and Kabumpo, combine. Through further adventures they chase Ruggedo to Ev; they meet the Scarecrow, Glinda, and Ozma. They eventually learn how to use Glegg's magic to restore the status quo, shrinking Ruggedo and returning the palace to its proper place.
Peg Amy is disenchanted from a wooden doll into her original form, the princess of Sun Top Mountain. The magic mirror and Question Box reveal that she is the "proper princess" that Pompadore must marry. Pompadore and Wag have helped to free Peg Amy from her artificial form, by treating her like a princess when they thought she was a wooden doll. The malevolent magician Glegg is defeated in a final confrontation. Ruggedo is stranded on an island in the Nonestic Ocean (from where he will return in future Thompson books).
- Curious Cottabus
- Dorothy Gale
- Patchwork Girl
- Soldier with the Green Whiskers
Here in her second novel, Thompson introduces a trick that she exploits through the rest of her Oz works: she employs nonsensical epithets, exclamations, curses, and endearments. Consider "as ugly as a stone Lukoogoo" and "the King's a gooch" (both in Chapter 2), "Kerumberty Bumpus" (Chapter 4), and "klumping kaloogas" (Chapter 9), along with various others. Thompson never defines any of these terms, and uses most of them only once.
Thompson departs from Baum's practice by making fairy-tale romance a central part of her story. Prince Pompadore, the hero, must marry the "proper fairy princess" to complete the tale. In contrast, Baum uses romance only for secondary characters — Ozga and Jo Files in Tik-Tok of Oz, and Gloria and Pon in The Scarecrow of Oz.
Pompadore is shocked when Ozma rejects his marriage proposal at the end of Chapter 18. Ozma exclaims, "Why, you don't even know me," and is "dismayed by even the thought of marrying" (Chapter 19). Marriage is as inappropriate for her as it would be for "Dorothy or Betsy Bobbin or Trot." Ozma, though a thousand-year-old fairy, is also a "sensible little girl."
Thompson gives no clear indications of the ages of Pompadore and Peg Amy; there is no reason for the reader to suppose that Peg Amy is any older than Ozma. The difference is that Peg Amy is clearly in love with Pompadore and wants to marry him.
|Ruth Plumly Thompson's Oz books|