Robin Brown is an orphan from Oregon. While visiting a local fair with his large, boisterous, and neglectful foster family, Robin receives a strange carousel ticket from a rotund little man. He rides a pretty red horse, and when he grabs the brass ring, the horse whisks him off into the sky.
The horse and boy land in the Quadling Country of Oz. The carousel horse is now alive and talkative; Robin names her Merry Go Round. They instantly become friends. Soon, they are swept up into a gang of monomaniacal fox hunters. Since this is Oz, the horses, dogs, and foxes all talk; they co-operate among themselves in their sport. Robin and Merry spend an uncomfortable two days with the hunt club before they can escape in the night. The two end up at the round and glass-domed city of Roundabout, which is full of rotund little people just like the carousel man. There, Robin is unexpectedly proclaimed king.
Meanwhile, the Munchkin principality of Halidom has reached a crisis. For many centuries, Halidom had been blessed in the possession of three magic gold rings, large, medium, and small, which bestowed strength, wisdom, and skill on the inhabitants. Over the past two generations though, the large and small rings had been lost. On the day Robin and Merry arrive in Oz, the last ring is stolen. The crown prince Gules sets out on a quest to recover the rings; he rides his talking horse, Federigo (Fred for shot), and is accompanied by his page Fess. The National Emblem of Halidom, a unicorn, invites herself along, providing Fess with a mount; and the boy's pet flittermouse Flitter rounds out the party.
Meanwhile yet again, Princess Ozma and Dorothy Gale are planning a party and egg hunt for Easter. Dorothy, in the company of the Cowardly Lion, goes to the underground domain of the Easter Bunny to place their order for eggs. Afterward, girl and lion blunder into the party from Halidom and join with them to search for the missing magic rings. In a process that involves the predictions of a crystal ball, they eventually end up in Roundabout to meet Robin and Merry. The searchers locate the large and medium rings in surprising ways; everyone contributes. When Robin realizes that the carousel's "brass ring" in his pocket is the final missing gold ring, the quest is successfully concluded. Ozma, watching their progress in the Magic Picture, joins them to celebrate their triumphant return to Halidom and to invite Robin and Merry to stay in Oz for good.
Merry Go Round in Oz reveals common features with the books of L. Frank Baum. Bunnyland, the Easter Bunny's realm, recalls Bunnybury in The Emerald City of Oz. Roundabout, a glass-domed city with a retractable drawbridge, resembles the city of the Skeezers in Glinda of Oz.
In the McGraws' collaboration, the mother, Eloise McGraw, did the actual writing; she credited her daughter Lauren Lynn with concepts and story contributions. The elder McGraw was a professional writer for children and the winner of two Newberry Awards; the writing in Merry Go Round in Oz is good, arguably better than anything in the Oz series since Baum. Her characterizations of the graceful Unicorn and the childlike Flitter are noteworthy.
In one respect, though, the McGraws' novel is an anomaly and a disappointment. Baum famously set out to write a new kind of American fairy tale when he created Oz; and the distinctiveness of the result is testament to his success. Merry Go Round in Oz, though, is dominated by Eurocentrism and Anglophilia; in spirit it is more like Baum's Queen Zixi of Ix than like the Oz books. When Robin first arrives in Oz, McGraw describes the land as looking like England; then follow the foxhunters, and the British nannies and pinafored moppets of Good Children's Land, who eat porridge and bread pudding. The story is steeped in feudalism, with kings, princes and knights, quests and jousts, crenelated walls, even a dragon (albeit a small one). The vocabulary is rich with medievalist touches: "trefoils," "quatrefoils," and "cinquefoils" (the flowers the Unicorn eats), "alaunds" and "kanets" (dogs), and "lioncel" for lion. The characters in the McGraws' tale include a unicorn and the Easter Bunny — very conventional choices. The novel is perhaps the least "Ozzy" of the Oz books.
|The final "Famous Forty" Oz books|