Friday, August 8, 2008

Hungry Tiger of Oz by Ruth Plumly Thompson, illustrated by John R. Neill

The Hungry Tiger would love to eat fat babies...but his conscience won't let him. However, criminals aren't the same thing as babies right? When the Hungry Tiger succumbs to temptation and rashly travels to the kingdom of Rash, he soon realizes he's made a serious mistake.

But when Betsy and some new friends, including the fascinating Vegetable Man, show up, the Hungry Tiger has a chance to redeem himself. The Hungry Tiger is, apart from the Wizard of Oz, one of the few morally ambiguous Oz characters. Unlike the other perpetually happy and content residents in Ozma's palace, the Hungry Tiger is constantly tempted to do wrong - or at least realize that he and the other animals are acting contrary to their nature.

In addition to this meaty plot, Thompson adds in a host of memorably odd characters, from the Vegetable Man who demonstrates the dangers of excessive vegetarianism to the Airman, whose pomposity and power are so easily punctured. Reddy, the distressed prince of Rash, is a minor character who supplies the impetus for the plot but is really just along for the ride. And it's an amazing ride! Grab a hurry cane and rush to Rash, the adventures are just beginning!

Verdict: A must for Oz fans, sadly few libraries have enough patron interest to justify collecting the original Oz books, let alone the Thompson continuations. [updated to add - Marvel's adaptations of the Oz books may be reviving public interest - I'm waiting with baited breath to see if they make it through all the basic Baum titles and tackle the Thompson oevre]

ISBN: N/A; Published and reprinted by various publishers, various editions are still in print; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for my personal collection, although I'm still looking for an older edition

No comments: