Oztrich Festival


In my continuing quest to explore every last detail of the Oz books, I now come to a protagonist of The Gnome King of Oz who never appeared again. Grumpy and Kuma Party are both mentioned in passing, but I think this book is it for the subject of this post, Ozwold the Oztrich. An oztrich is pretty much the same as an ostrich, but with green feathers and blue eyes. Unfortunately, whoever colored in the plates didn’t abide by that description.

Also, many of the untrue stereotypes that people have of ostriches are actually true of oztriches. Ozwold really does bury his head in the sand and eat rocks.

Ozwold comes into the story when Peter Brown, Scraps, and Grumpy come across his disorienting desert home, the Bewilderness. This is a place in the Winkie Country where trees, bushes, and rocks constantly move around.

At the time they encounter him, the Oztrich is watching an egg for his wife, who is away visiting her mother. Ostrich eggs are usually incubated by the female in the daytime and the male at night, so I guess this would be twice the work for him. Peter and his friends convince Ozwold to carry them to the Emerald City in order to stop Ruggedo’s attempt at conquest, taking the egg with them.

The egg hatches in the capital city, and Ozma gives the baby oztrich an emerald necklace as a Hatch Day present.

I don’t know that there’s a whole lot to say about Ozwold’s character. I suppose his main trait is that he’s steadfast and unflappable, being the only one who doesn’t get distracted when the party encounters the Bookman. He also has a habit of cutting words short when he gets angry or frustrated. I know my wife, who isn’t an Oz fan, uses Ozwold’s “ridick” at times. She didn’t get it from the Oztrich, but maybe he could be considered a trendsetter anyway. {g}

One bit of trivia is that, before this book was written, Ruth Plumly Thompson came up with the idea of the Oztrich for an Oz comic that she and John R. Neill were considering. The comic never came to pass, but Thompson wasn’t the kind to discard a good idea, so he showed up in Gnome King.

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6 Responses to Oztrich Festival

  1. vilajunkie says:

    It’s really too bad Thompson never used the same ideas for later books, but almost always “forgot” what she wrote and moved on like the previous book never happened. Of course, Baum had this trait, too, but who knows what he would have done with the series if he hadn’t died.

    • Nathan says:

      Based on his later books, it does seem like Baum might well have given the Frogman, at least, significant appearances in future works. Both authors had a lot of characters they once used once, but it seems that Thompson had more that she brought to live in the Emerald City and didn’t address again. Then again, Baum had the Shaggy Man’s brother, who was even more neglected than Carter Green or Benny.

      • vilajunkie says:

        And that’s a great reason why I should reuse the Shaggy Man’s brother for one of the Oz stories I have! For the record, I really wish he had been given a name, because I hate always writing “Shaggy Man’s brother” or even “the Ugly One” or, even more rare, “the Handsome One” (somebody in Tiktok called him that, right?).

      • Nathan says:

        I don’t remember anyone calling him “Handsome One,” but since Shaggy said he’s usually handsome, I suppose it would be appropriate. I believe his name in the play The Tik-Tok Man of Oz was Wiggy, and he’s Daniel in The Emerald Mountain of Oz.

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